ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Police are looking for the crook responsible for a string of shoplifting cases across the metro, stealing thousands in merchandise from area Target stores. Putting a laser focus on shoplifters, Albuquerque Police are teaming up with big-box stores to curb crime.
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“What we’ve seen with our retail partnerships that we have is they’re not just hitting one business,” said Aaron Jones, interim commander for APD’s Investigative Service Division. “They’ll hit a Target, go to Walmart, then they’ll go to Home Depot or Lowe’s.”
One of those crooks has a taste for Target. Police say 28-year-old Gabriel Quintana — who already boasts a lengthy criminal history — is striking Albuquerque-area Target stores, often striking the same store days in a row or hitting multiple stores in one day. From pricey items like big-screen TVs and gaming gear to smaller ones like cleaning products and donuts, criminal complaints detail how he racks up each item at the checkout, then continues out the door without paying.
“That’s a lot of money that’s leaving that particular store,” said Jones. “The staff at Target did a fantastic job on memorializing every single incident. In fact, they have investigators that were able to tie a lot of the cases together.”
From June through September — spawning at least three criminal cases — court records report he struck the Lomas Target at least 17 times, stealing more than $16,000 in goods. They also show he hit the Paseo and I-25 Target three times with more than $1,800 in merch, the Coors and Paseo Target three times with more than $2,700 taken in items, and the Montgomery Target once, taking $550 worth of stuff.
“The citizens who are working in these particular retail stores, they’re doing a fantastic job on the legwork because they’re fed up with it,” said Jones. “They want to see these people held accountable for what’s happened.”
In the first two criminal cases — making up five of those shoplifting incidents — Quintana was released. Now, there’s a warrant out for his arrest for a third case, detailing the 18 other incidents. Police say it’s disappointing for the citizens putting in all the work to identify shoplifters like Quintana.
“Whenever they compile the kind of data that they’ve compiled and do the legwork that they’ve done to try to identify Mr. Quintana and they’ve had to deal with the thefts in their stores,’ said Jones. “When these people are let back out on the street, really what it is, it feels like we’re letting down the community members.”
These are the first shoplifting charges Quintana has faced in the state but his criminal history dates back to 2011 with felony narcotics, car theft, and more. He’s supposed to appear back in court for the original shoplifting charges later this month.