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New Mexico Attorney General, Albuquerque City Officials Target ORC

In response to a plague of organized retail crime (ORC) in New Mexico, the state’s Attorney General Hector Balderas, alongside Albuquerque Mayor Tim Kelly and Police Chief Harold Medina, announced a new initiative that aims to stop professional shoplifting rings before they can strike. The Albuquerque Journal newspaper editorial board also urged the New Mexico legislature to address ORC in order to protect employees from dangerous criminals and help keep consumers safe.

Hector Balderas
Hector Balderas

At a news conference where he was joined by the mayor, chief of police, and a top executive from Home Depot, Balderas said, “This is about a very profitable industry that is now funneling and fueling other criminal activity, like human trafficking and gang activity. The most violent criminals in the country now understand this can be a very profitable business to invest in other criminal activity in New Mexico.”

The Buy Safe America Coalition is advocating legislative action at both the state and federal level to curb organized retail crime. The coalition is pressing Congress to support the INFORM Consumers Act, a bipartisan measure that aims to counter the flow of stolen merchandise sold by organized retail crime groups on online marketplaces. The Act would require e-commerce platforms to verify their third-party sellers in order to limit criminals access to marketplaces that provide a lucrative outlet for stolen and counterfeit goods.

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Following is a snapshot of what the Albuquerque Journal editorial board said in a July 11, 2021, editorial:

“Albuquerque residents weary of in-your-face crime got some good news last week when Attorney General Hector Balderas, Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Harold Medina announced a new initiative to crack down on ‘organized retail crime’ in which thieves and gangs of thieves target big box stores and other retailers.

“It’s not your grandmother’s version of shoplifting we are talking about here. It’s brazen, it’s often orchestrated and it can become dangerous when store clerks or security personnel (or even an outraged bystander) attempt to confront someone who is hauling his or her ill-gotten merchandise out the front door.

“State laws lack the necessary teeth. [Harold] Medina pointed out that it is a misdemeanor to shoplift under $500 and says it would help if the Legislature would make it possible to file felony charges if a perpetrator steals from multiple stores or as part of a group.

“Make no mistake. This is dangerous stuff and the response by police and prosecutors – and lawmakers – needs to be quick and decisive.”

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