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Sonora PD Noticing Increase In Shoplifting Crimes

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Sonora, CA — City of Sonora Police Chief Turu Vanderwiel says he is noticing a concerning trend when it comes to theft cases.

The chief states, “There is an uptick in shoplifting, and it has been trending up for a few years now. There seems to be more and more.”

For example, in a notable case earlier this month, the PD arrested 26-year-old Kathleen Robinson of Sonora who was caught allegedly trying to steal $1,400 worth of items from Walmart on Sanguinetti Road. She showed an old receipt to a store staff member of items that did not match what was in her cart. She fled on foot and was later captured by the PD nearby. In addition, she had drug paraphernalia.

Just this past weekend, on Friday evening, the PD received a report of two women stealing over a $1,000 worth of items from the Sonora Ross store. They fled the scene without getting captured.  There was also another shoplifting case investigated at Walmart on Friday evening.

In 2014 California started prosecuting theft cases under $950 as misdemeanors instead of felonies, which many law enforcement officials believe attributed to an increase in shoplifting cases. Some criminals were strategically stealing just under $950 worth of goods. However, this past session the legislature voted to redefine the law so that shoplifting under $950 is again a felony if the items are being stolen under an “organized retail crime effort” with the intent to resell them.

Chief Vanderwiel has noticed a mix of both types of offenses (personal use thefts and organized retail) locally. Adding, “In organized retail theft cases they will steal high-value items such as Lego sets worth several hundreds of dollars and they will turn around and sell them either on the internet or at swap meets.”

Sonora is far from alone in seeing a spike. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento rank among the top 10 in organized retail crime, nationwide, according to the California Retailers Association.  Police departments are noticing more shoplifting incidents, and the numbers could increase over the coming weeks. Traditionally the holiday period is a very positive one for retail sales but it can also bring out thieves.