ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Serial shoplifters be warned. The state and City of Albuquerque are launching a new partnership focused on tackling what they call organized retail crime. The New Mexico Attorney General says shoplifting crimes are rising and in some cases, are tied to more serious and violent crimes.

“This is not about shoplifting, this is not about teenage delinquencies. This is about a very profitable industry that is now funneling and fueling other criminal activity like human trafficking and gang activity,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Balderas says in the wake of the El Paso Walmart shooting, they’ve seen an increase in violence in New Mexico towards consumers and it’s putting the economy and families at risk. The AG says the new partnership is a way to put a renewed focus on working with big box stores like Home Depot to help catch these kinds of criminals.

One way the partnership will work is by retailers giving the Albuquerque Police Department live-feed access to their security cameras and license plate readers, so they can let business owners know if a stolen car is on their property and giving responding officers the most up-to-date information.

“We have to stop looking at it as property crime and violent crime. A lot of our property crime offenders are just short of becoming violent criminals because they’re not in the process of being apprehended. We see this over and over again in the shoplifting industry, where security takes the individual into custody and it becomes a violent altercation,” said APD Chief Harold Medina.

KRQE News 13 also learned that the brazenness of violent shoplifting crimes is going up. APD says as pandemic restrictions lift, shoplifting activity shot up. The Attorney General’s Office says they’ll be putting their best prosecutors on these kinds of cases.

The AG is calling on legislators to pass the Organized Retail Criminal Act, which would increase criminal penalties for serial shoplifters.