ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With holiday shopping ramping up, Bernalillo County deputies are cracking down on retail crime. They’ve made more than two-dozen arrests so far due to organized retail crime operations, but jail records show few of those offenders are still behind bars.
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) is calling it “Operation Holiday Hammer,” and so far, they’ve done eight shoplifting-focused operations near Coronado Center. However, BCSO Sheriff John Allen admits a lot of people they’re arresting are going right back on the streets.
“If we have to do it over and over, eventually somebody is going to get the message,” said Sheriff John Allen.
It’s a critical time for a crackdown on retail crime with around 2 million people expected to go through Uptown in December alone. Coronado Center officials added that this influx of shoppers brings in nearly $400 million in shopping sales. The mall is also out one of its main tenants this season after Kohl’s closed in the summer with employees saying crime problems were a factor.
“The differences people want to see is law enforcement actually in the area, law enforcement actually doing something, and then for the criminal justice system to actually have follow through,” Sheriff Allen explained.
BCSO released a photo of people arrested or summoned to court in their operations. Of the 14 names that News 13 was able to search, only three offenders are still in the Metropolitan Detention Center. At least nine people have been released, and at least one of those cases was dropped due to a lack of evidence.
“I want to make sure that you all know, that no matter what happens, we will work through that and will continue to do our job, and we will always communicate and make sure that we have collaboration to make sure that offenders stay in jail,” said Sheriff Allen.
BCSO said they have recovered around $15,000 in stolen merchandise through their operations so far. They have at least 12 more holiday operations planned through the end of the year.