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TPD's new Larceny Unit already paying dividends

Suspects wanted for shoplifting (Source: TPD) Suspects wanted for shoplifting (Source: TPD)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Conceptualized by Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor late last year and implemented by the department at the beginning of 2014, TPD is already seeing benefit in their newly-formed Larceny Unit.

"This is a sub segment of the criminal population that commits a lot of crime."

Tucson Police Captain Paul Sayre is talking about thieves, shoplifters and larcenists, whom together accounted for nearly 15,000 reported cases last year.

They're certainly not committing the crime of the century.

Though you might be surprised what a beer skip or department store theft often leads to.

"By focusing on our most prolific offenders, these shoplifters, what we're finding is they've had previous arrests for domestic violence, narcotics offenses, serious felony offenses like aggravated assault," he said.

With two full-time detectives and the support of TPD's numerous Community Response Teams, TPD is cracking down on shoplifters today: more arrests, steeper charges, sometimes even felony convictions.

What used to be slap on the wrist is now serious jail time.

That's what 31-year-old Brandy Ambrose is facing after ripping off at least six local Target stores in recent months. 

Police said she pepper-sprayed two security guards who attempted to detain her after one of those incidents.

When police finally caught up with her, she was booked on three counts of felony shoplifting, one count of robbery and another count of aggravated assault.

"It's crazy how brave criminals are getting these days," says one convenience store customer who asked to remain nameless.  "They'll do just about anything...running into convenience stores and taking whatever they like."

Such is the case with two guys who've recently stolen $1,400 worth of beer, police say.

This young couple's done the same getting away with at least $500 in 30 packs.

All four are being targeted by police and retailers now keeping a watchful eye on shoplifters everywhere.

"This is our panic button here that we have at the store," says local convenience store clerk Jim Russell. "If anything happens, we hit the button and the police will respond immediately."

The goal is getting as many of these people off the streets before they commit their next crime, whether it be shoplifting or something much more serious.

If you recognize any of the subjects in this story, call 911 or 88-CRIME.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now.  All rights reserved.

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