ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) –Serial shoplifters are so much of a problem in New Mexico that prosecutors are asking for tougher penalties from the legislature. One Española man didn’t want one crook to get away, so he took video of her in the act. 

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“Shoplifters are finding that they can just do whatever they want,” said Ben Sandoval. He caught a thief in the act Sunday stealing around $2,000 worth of items from a local Lowe’s hardware store. 

“There were tools and different types of goods that they sell. A female loaded up the shopping cart and walked out to her vehicle where she put the items into her vehicle and fled the area,” said Lieutenant Jeremy Apodaca with the Española Police Department.

Sandoval’s video helped law enforcement locate and arrest the thief. Police were also able to recover a large number of items that were taken. In some cases, shoplifters turn violent which is why law enforcement warns people to stay at a distance when they see these things happening. 

“What we recommend is that if they’re able to see a license plate or get a really good description of the individual or the vehicle that really helps us out so that way we can be on the lookout for them and their safety at the same time,” said Lt. Apodaca.

Another problem is that many shoplifters are repeat offenders. In this case, Aliya Cordova has a history of stealing. In March, she stole from a family dollar in Pojoaque, and in May she stole from a CVS Pharmacy in which she sprayed an employee in the face with mace. “It’s petty crime, they answer for their crime, and then they’re released. It’s a big cycle we’re seeing and dealing with right now and unfortunately, I don’t know at what point that ends,” Lt. Apodaca said.

In the past, the Attorney General has called on legislators to pass the Organized Retail Criminal Act which would increase criminal penalties for serial shoplifters. Sandoval says he wants to see these changes sooner rather than later. “We need to communicate with our legislators, our leadership, our mayor and tell them how we’re feeling as a community, tell them what we’re losing,” Sandoval said.

Cordova had a warrant out for her arrest for failure to pay fines from a previous shoplifting charge. She is awaiting trial in two other cases.