Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell cracking down on organized retail crime with new campaign
Nov 16, 2023, 4:05 AM | Updated: 8:18 am
(Facebook Screenshot/Maricopa County Attorney's Office)
PHOENIX — Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced Wednesday she has launched a new “Safe Shopping” campaign. It’s an effort to battle organized retail crime.
ORC occurs when groups steal a large amount of merchandise with the intent to resell. In many cases, thieves will travel from out of state to commit multiple offenses throughout Maricopa County and then sell the stolen merchandise online.
“We’re seeing in some of the other states in the United States where you have those mass bands of people running in and smashing and grabbing, but we still have people who are going into stores and taking large amounts of items that have a high resale value,” Mitchell said in an interview on KTAR News’ The Gaydos and Chad Show. “And we’re also seeing a trend where people are coming from other states, California, in particular, to do day trips to go into our stores here and steal from them.”
Last year, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office received 201 cases of ORC from local police agencies. MCAO said 2023’s number will exceed 2022. George Gascon, district attorney of Los Angeles County, said his office would no longer prosecute a range of misdemeanor crimes.
Under California’s Prop 47, theft over $950 can be prosecuted as a felony. However, in Arizona, the theft must exceed $1,000. Mitchell’s approach will be different from the Los Angeles DA.
“We’re going to prosecute those cases and like I said, we will add them together and get them for the felonies that they’re committing and put them in prison,” Mitchell said in the interview.
In July, Mitchell created the Organized Retail Crime Taskforce at MCAO to foster more communication between retailers and law enforcement. The “Safe Shopping” campaign is an extension of the task force.