Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell on efforts to combat retail theft
Retail theft has been rising around the country and has become a major issue in a number of cities.
According to Mitchell, there has been a trend of people coming in from different states to commit retail theft in Arizona.
“We’re seeing largely people who go in and just grab a lot of stuff and run out with it,” Mitchell said. “For example, my office just indicted two women who came over from California for the day, and they hit six different cities in a one-day period.”
This type of theft has been labeled as “organized retail theft” because they don’t steal to meet their needs but to resell the goods they have stolen such as makeup, baby formula or cleaning supplies.
“They’re put up oftentimes on the internet for resale so that money is going back into fueling and funding additional criminal activity,” Mitchell said.
Many cities that have seen a rise in organized retail theft have announced they will not prosecute retail theft below a certain dollar value.
“We’ve made it very clear in Maricopa County that’s not the rule here. If you come here, we’re going to prosecute you even if it’s below, for example, $1,000,” Mitchell said.
Recently, a video has been circulating of a man attempting to shoplift $150,000 worth of jewelry from Marina Jewelers in Old Town Scottsdale.
“Initially, the booking was a lower level of theft. It went up as the police were able to determine the value of the items taken,” Mitchell said. “So, in Arizona, the sentencing is determined by the value of the items stolen. So, when they found out how much that jewelry was worth, we were able to up that to a class 2 felony.”
The magnitude of organized retail theft is relatively new.
“It started when you had district attorneys and other states basically say we’re not prosecuting this,” Mitchell said.