Two recent incidents illustrate the disturbing lengths shoplifters will go to to secure a haul of stolen merchandise. One set fire to a Walmart Supercenter in Edgewood to create a distraction; the other tried to pocket ammunition, pulled out a Glock pistol with an extended magazine and laser attachments and pointed it at several employees of a Cabela’s in Northeast Albuquerque before fleeing and getting shot in an exchange of gunfire with an off-duty officer.
More often than not, shoplifting is a fairly low-disturbance event with the perpetrators simply walking away with an armload or shopping cart full of stolen goods. That is egregious enough. But these two incidents were pure mayhem, creating a significant threat to public safety. The fire at the Walmart Supercenter in Edgewood sent employees and shoppers running amid torched aisles of merchandise. Needless to say, gunplay in a parking lot puts anyone in range of a stray bullet at risk of serious injury.
The good news is these brash incidents resulted in arrests. And the Organized Retail Crime Task Force, spearheaded by the Attorney General’s Office, has taken on the Sisyphean task of shutting down shoplifting rings and teamed up with law enforcement agencies and retail stores to “aggressively target, arrest and prosecute repeat offenders.” We say about time, thank you and please don’t let up.
Candidates for public office are making much of Albuquerque’s crime problem as we head toward the June primary. They all say something needs to change. No argument there. Besides the most obvious fix — putting more officers on the street — lawmakers need to revive and pass legislation like House Bill 29 that specifically calls out these serial thieves and does not allow them to steal $499.99 over and over again and walk away with misdemeanor charges.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.