SCV Sheriff’s talk crime prevention with retailers

Crime analist Yvette McClain, center, and It. Ignacio Somoano discuss crime stats on the crime mapping web site. Dan Watson/The Signal

To help reduce crime, law enforcement needs your help. 

That’s the message local retailers and loss-prevention teams heard from Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials Wednesday morning as part of the station’s quarterly meeting to address retail theft and other crimes local businesses experience. 

The meeting, held at the station, covered topics such as credit card fraud, counterfeit money and the use of fake identification cards with a variety of retailers, such as Home Depot, Target, Walmart and Kohl’s, according to Detective Michelle O’Brien. 

It’s all about communication between businesses and law enforcement, said O’Brien, who has coordinated special operations targeting retail theft. 

“For example, we actually have a private group (on social media) between the businesses out here where we share photos and crimes that have just occurred, license plates and things like that,” she said. “We talk about what’s required for filing by the district attorney, such as video and photos.”  

And talking among each other has helped, said Lt. Ignacio Somoano. In at least one instance, O’Brien was able to put together a case where “a suspect was changing bar codes and ripping off two main chain stores throughout Santa Clarita, Bakersfield and other areas. The fact that (the stores) communicated on their thefts, (O’Brien) was then notified with all her resources,” he said.

The suspect, from California City, pleaded to seven felonies and 14 misdemeanors, said O’Brien. 

Communication has also helped in executing special operations, such as an August incident in which deputies caught 13 shoplifting suspects in a single day. 

“SCV Sheriff’s Detective Bureau works closely with the retail stores to combat theft within the stores, and when afforded the opportunity (they) conduct a retail theft operation consisting of undercover and sworn personnel along with uniform personnel to help combat the thefts,” Sgt. Steve Sgrignoli of the Burglary and Theft team said in an August interview. “The retail stores are greatly appreciative of Detective O’Brien’s commitment with combating criminal activities.”

“We all share information, network and update each other on the latest crime trends because (retailers) don’t report on every little thing that’s stolen from the store or stuff that they don’t know who stole it,” said Somoano. 

SCV crime has dropped by nearly 24% since last year, according to statistics compiled by the SCV Sheriff’s Station. Property crimes alone, such as larceny theft, dropped by 22.76%. Somoano said he hopes continued efforts between law enforcement businesses of all sizes and the general public will help reduce crime. 

For retailers interested in attending upcoming meetings, with the next expected in January, O’Brien suggests calling the station at 661-255-1121 or emailing her at [email protected].  

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