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JCPenney, Macy’s, Marshalls, TJ Maxx push back against thieves

The red jeep from TJ at Carmel Mountain Ranch Marshalls

Manuel Alvarez
Manuel Alvarez

After California lawmakers changed the threshold for felony theft to $950, the surge of shoplifters has become notorious. But retailers apparently have organized in Southern California in effort to survive.

At a recent court hearing it was revealed that San Diego has an Organized Retail Crime Alliance, which is part of a national task force. A witness identified as “Dee Dee” said she is an investigator for this alliance, and she researches crimes that target certain stores even across multiple counties. Dee Dee said these organized thieves resell the stolen goods at swap meets, using online platforms, and in Mexico.

Dee Dee said she studies surveillance videos from stores that have stationary and “hand-tilt systems.” Photo evidence was collected from 62 stores, including JCPenney, Macy’s, Marshalls, TJ Maxx. The area extends from South Orange County, east to Indio, and south to the border in San Ysidro. Private investigators gather evidence which are presented to law enforcement and shared with retailers.

Dee Dee said that in mid-2021 she first identified a thief who was affecting stores in Chula Vista and San Ysidro. This thief filled shopping carts with goods and then pushed the loaded cart out a back door; he was unique for always kicking open the emergency door in the back. Sometimes he worked alone and sometimes with an accomplice. Dee Dee gathered 17 videos as part of evidence against the suspect.

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“His body type and clothing and jewelry were identifiable,” Dee Dee testified in court on September 29. “He is very tall,” she said. The suspect wore gold chains and a gold watch on his left wrist, and he often wore the same eyeglasses and clothing. This suspect wore a Covid face mask in the earliest videos, but later he went without a mask.

Dee Dee said he pillaged stores in Mission Valley, Plaza Bonita, Point Loma, Carmel Mountain, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, and Laguna Hills.

This suspect gradually changed his technique, next he used luggage stolen from the store, into which he put chosen loot, and then he used the heavy luggage to shove open the front doors of the store when he left. Dee Dee said he never touched the doors with his hands.

He and his accomplices allegedly chose certain designer items, such as a particular woman’s red shoe; then they would collect that item in multiple sizes; the thieves would “stage” a pile of their chosen loot inside the store. (In one case multiple men’s shoes were stolen; Polo shirts in different sizes were stolen; women’s handbags and men’s wallets and popular fragrances were stolen; Adidas and Puma and Reebok shoes were targeted.)

Dee Dee testified that in early March this year, the suspect came into a store in Point Loma; his accomplice came in after him, and together they piled up selected shoes. Alvarez left the store and changed some of his clothes, he switched out his hat and shirt, and then he came back into the store and took the “staged” loot. Dee Dee said, “He changed the top part of his clothing, but his pants and shoes stayed the same. Sometimes he would add or remove a hat. Sometimes he wears reading glasses.”

After she noticed that this suspect often looted on Wednesday nights, Dee Dee made arrangements to go to that store. It was a Marshalls in Carmel Mountain Ranch; Dee Dee went there on March 9, 2022 after she coordinated with that store’s Loss Prevention Associates. When her target came into the store about 9 pm, she was able to recognize him, “I had seen him in person myself.” The suspect collected items and staged them, but then he purchased one hat and left the store. “He got into a red Jeep.” Then an accomplice came into the store and put the assembled loot into a hamper and left the store without paying, then got into the passenger side of the red Jeep. Dee Dee and store cameras were able to see the license plate, and this led to identifying Manuel Espinoza Alvarez, 24, who now pleads not-guilty to three felonies and ten misdemeanor theft charges.

A law enforcement officer who testified said he checked that license plate and found the registered owner. This officer then searched the border crossing history of that license plate for March 9, 2022. It had entered inbound to the USA at 6:14 pm and exited back into Mexico at 10:44 pm. This officer said he was able to see photos taken by a customs officer, and the person who was driving the red Jeep Grand Cherokee into the USA was visible. This officer reviewed mugshots of Manuel Espinoza Alvarez, from his previous arrests in San Diego County. The officer identified defendant Alvarez in court as the driver of the Jeep and the man arrested for previous thefts.

Many photos were entered into evidence at a pre-trial hearing last week, and witness Dee Dee identified defendant Alvarez as the suspect she saw in person, and so many store surveillance videos.

Manuel Espinoza Alvarez, 24, was most recently arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol on September 7, 2022. (He has been arrested in San Diego County at least five times in the last two years.) Alvarez is held in San Diego’s downtown Central jail and is described in jail records as 5 feet 10 inches tall and 180 pounds.

Dee Dee said she was able to document the total losses to a chain of retail stores over a three month period, from this one suspect, at $9,323.65.

Alvarez had benefit of a Spanish-speaking interpreter in court.

Judge Laura Duffy ordered Alvarez to answer three felony theft charges plus ten misdemeanor shoplifting charges; the judge revoked his probation on two prior felony theft convictions, those were charged in 2020. Alvarez pleads not-guilty to all charges and is next due in court October 27 to confirm a date for trial.

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Manuel Alvarez
Manuel Alvarez

After California lawmakers changed the threshold for felony theft to $950, the surge of shoplifters has become notorious. But retailers apparently have organized in Southern California in effort to survive.

At a recent court hearing it was revealed that San Diego has an Organized Retail Crime Alliance, which is part of a national task force. A witness identified as “Dee Dee” said she is an investigator for this alliance, and she researches crimes that target certain stores even across multiple counties. Dee Dee said these organized thieves resell the stolen goods at swap meets, using online platforms, and in Mexico.

Dee Dee said she studies surveillance videos from stores that have stationary and “hand-tilt systems.” Photo evidence was collected from 62 stores, including JCPenney, Macy’s, Marshalls, TJ Maxx. The area extends from South Orange County, east to Indio, and south to the border in San Ysidro. Private investigators gather evidence which are presented to law enforcement and shared with retailers.

Dee Dee said that in mid-2021 she first identified a thief who was affecting stores in Chula Vista and San Ysidro. This thief filled shopping carts with goods and then pushed the loaded cart out a back door; he was unique for always kicking open the emergency door in the back. Sometimes he worked alone and sometimes with an accomplice. Dee Dee gathered 17 videos as part of evidence against the suspect.

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“His body type and clothing and jewelry were identifiable,” Dee Dee testified in court on September 29. “He is very tall,” she said. The suspect wore gold chains and a gold watch on his left wrist, and he often wore the same eyeglasses and clothing. This suspect wore a Covid face mask in the earliest videos, but later he went without a mask.

Dee Dee said he pillaged stores in Mission Valley, Plaza Bonita, Point Loma, Carmel Mountain, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, and Laguna Hills.

This suspect gradually changed his technique, next he used luggage stolen from the store, into which he put chosen loot, and then he used the heavy luggage to shove open the front doors of the store when he left. Dee Dee said he never touched the doors with his hands.

He and his accomplices allegedly chose certain designer items, such as a particular woman’s red shoe; then they would collect that item in multiple sizes; the thieves would “stage” a pile of their chosen loot inside the store. (In one case multiple men’s shoes were stolen; Polo shirts in different sizes were stolen; women’s handbags and men’s wallets and popular fragrances were stolen; Adidas and Puma and Reebok shoes were targeted.)

Dee Dee testified that in early March this year, the suspect came into a store in Point Loma; his accomplice came in after him, and together they piled up selected shoes. Alvarez left the store and changed some of his clothes, he switched out his hat and shirt, and then he came back into the store and took the “staged” loot. Dee Dee said, “He changed the top part of his clothing, but his pants and shoes stayed the same. Sometimes he would add or remove a hat. Sometimes he wears reading glasses.”

After she noticed that this suspect often looted on Wednesday nights, Dee Dee made arrangements to go to that store. It was a Marshalls in Carmel Mountain Ranch; Dee Dee went there on March 9, 2022 after she coordinated with that store’s Loss Prevention Associates. When her target came into the store about 9 pm, she was able to recognize him, “I had seen him in person myself.” The suspect collected items and staged them, but then he purchased one hat and left the store. “He got into a red Jeep.” Then an accomplice came into the store and put the assembled loot into a hamper and left the store without paying, then got into the passenger side of the red Jeep. Dee Dee and store cameras were able to see the license plate, and this led to identifying Manuel Espinoza Alvarez, 24, who now pleads not-guilty to three felonies and ten misdemeanor theft charges.

A law enforcement officer who testified said he checked that license plate and found the registered owner. This officer then searched the border crossing history of that license plate for March 9, 2022. It had entered inbound to the USA at 6:14 pm and exited back into Mexico at 10:44 pm. This officer said he was able to see photos taken by a customs officer, and the person who was driving the red Jeep Grand Cherokee into the USA was visible. This officer reviewed mugshots of Manuel Espinoza Alvarez, from his previous arrests in San Diego County. The officer identified defendant Alvarez in court as the driver of the Jeep and the man arrested for previous thefts.

Many photos were entered into evidence at a pre-trial hearing last week, and witness Dee Dee identified defendant Alvarez as the suspect she saw in person, and so many store surveillance videos.

Manuel Espinoza Alvarez, 24, was most recently arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol on September 7, 2022. (He has been arrested in San Diego County at least five times in the last two years.) Alvarez is held in San Diego’s downtown Central jail and is described in jail records as 5 feet 10 inches tall and 180 pounds.

Dee Dee said she was able to document the total losses to a chain of retail stores over a three month period, from this one suspect, at $9,323.65.

Alvarez had benefit of a Spanish-speaking interpreter in court.

Judge Laura Duffy ordered Alvarez to answer three felony theft charges plus ten misdemeanor shoplifting charges; the judge revoked his probation on two prior felony theft convictions, those were charged in 2020. Alvarez pleads not-guilty to all charges and is next due in court October 27 to confirm a date for trial.

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Honorable judge Laura Duffy revoked his probation on two prior felony theft convictions, charged in 2020, after she ordered Alvarez to answer three new felony theft charges plus ten misdemeanor shoplifting charges.

Oct. 11, 2022

Shoplifting has always been a serious problem. Prop 47 made it a lot worse. Why anyone voted for this is beyond me. Repeal Prop 47.

Oct. 11, 2022

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