Albuquerque Police warn store personnel not to detain suspected thieves


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Police said they’ve warned companies over and over not to let their employees get in the way of someone suspected of stealing from their stores, but it continues to happen.

This past weekend, the Albuquerque Police Department said a man pulled a knife on an employee when he tried to keep the suspected thief from leaving. Police said that man is accused to trying to steal a $64 pair of shoes.

“He never cut anybody, luckily, but it could have turned pretty serious, pretty quickly if he’d decided to carry those actions out,” Officer Fred Duran said.

According to a criminal complaint, Richard Gallant caused quite the scene Saturday at Coronado Mall.

The complaint states a Loss Prevention worker at Kohl’s observed Gallant trying to leave with a pair a shoes under his shirt. The worker told officers he stopped Gallant just before he left the store and asked him to walk back to an office.

That’s when the worker said Gallant shouted, “You want to f*** with me?” and pulled out a knife.

The worker told officers Gallant lunged at him with the knife. Mall security also responded to the scene after it received word that Gallant turned violent. The security guard told APD Gallant refused to put down the knife, even after several commands.

That’s one of the reasons Officer Duran said APD continues to warn loss prevention personnel not to take action if they catch someone in the act.

“It’s just not a good idea,” Officer Duran said. “They don’t have the rights that law enforcement officers have in order to detain people, arrest people and take people to jail.”

Officer Duran referred to a case last year in which APD said loss prevention workers at K-Mart detained a suspected shoplifter and held him face down until police got there. That man died.

APD said, in that case, detectives completed their investigation and forwarded it to the District Attorney’s Office. Still no word if the state will press charges against the loss prevention workers.

“It’s not worth them trying to detain somebody for that,” Officer Duran said. “Or them getting hurt or maybe the offender getting hurt.”

The security guard in Saturday’s incident said he ended up using “OC spray” on Gallant to get him to drop the knife. He followed him until he was off mall property to wait for police.

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