Mitchell Takes Tough Stand On Organized Retail Theft

Daniel Stefanski
5 Min Read

By Daniel Stefanski |

The top prosecutor for Arizona’s largest county continues to take a tough stand against organized retail theft in her jurisdiction.

Last week, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced that charges were being filed against an individual who allegedly robbed a jewelry store in Old Town Scottsdale.

The crime occurred in the late morning of September 1 at Marina Jewelers. People outside the store were alerted to the fact that a man running out of the store had purportedly stolen jewelry from the store, and acted to detain him until police arrived to make the arrest.

Mitchell revealed that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office would be charging this individual with Class 2 Theft – in addition to other charges – because of the amount he tried to take from the store. The primary charge, she informed reporters, came with a mandatory prison sentence.

In her opening statement to the press, Mitchell explained that organized retail theft prosecutions have been a priority for her office – not only because of the impact on the businesses experiencing the direct heists – but because of the impact to the community, which includes empty buildings, and loss of jobs, services, or goods. She pointed out that the consequences of these crimes often affect poorer parts of town before trickling to more affluent neighborhoods, making it more difficult for consumers to acquire the goods and services they need for their everyday lives.

The County Attorney highlighted how other states and jurisdictions handle organized retail thefts – especially where prosecutors have set a threshold of $1,000 to activate charges. She emphasized to any potential or current criminals who may be watching: “in Arizona that has not been done.” Her office is willing to prosecute some cases, when appropriate, as felonies.

During her opening remarks, Mitchell twice stated that “this is not the state you want to be in to mimic the behavior you see on the news in other parts of the country, such as Los Angeles.” She referred to Los Angeles as a “hellscape,” in part, due to its lax standards for holding criminals accountable for their organized retail theft offenses.

Later in her press conference, Mitchell returned to this issue of organized retail theft due to a reporter’s question. Mitchell shared that when she took office, she “felt like our specialized retail theft prosecutors were limited to too high of a dollar amount before they could get involved,” noting that some of these lawbreakers commit smaller offenses at place after place. She informed her audience that upon taking office, one of her initial acts was to lower the value threshold to allow her prosecutors to get involved in the cases earlier, and the second was to create a task force within the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and link their efforts with those of the Arizona Retailers Association.

Mitchell promised that her office is continuing to look at ways to reduce the instances of organized retail theft in the county and to make sure that her jurisdiction does not become like Los Angeles.

In July 2022, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office formed an organized retail theft taskforce, featuring “a group of specialized prosecutors and detectives who will work with local law enforcement and the Arizona Retailer’s Association to address criminal acts involving organized retail theft.” Mitchell at that time said, “Retail stores are being devasted by groups who recklessly and intentionally take what they want and leave destruction in their wake. Many are organized gangs who have found new funding sources with stolen merchandise and the impact of this affects everyone of us.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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2023-09-13 07:13:00 , AZ FREE NEWS

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