Looted display case in a Mexico City department store. Looted display case in a Mexico City department store.

Department stores easy pickings in CDMX

A single haul can be worth as much as 500,000 pesos in phones, video games

Department stores can be easy pickings for thieves in Mexico City.

The most recent theft happened early Monday morning when a group of young men broke into a Sanborns store in the city’s San Jerónimo district.

The men took hammers to glass display cases containing high-end phones and video game consoles and helped themselves to the devices. They fled the scene in a car that was waiting for them outside the store.

A report presented later by the local Secretariat of Security stated that the private security guard hired by the store did nothing to prevent the looting, opting instead to hide behind a shelf and watch.

Authorities estimate that thieves can get away with at least 500,000 pesos’ (almost US $27,000) worth of goods in each of these strikes.

They target a limited list of items, including video game consoles, mobile phones, watches, tablets and in some cases jewelry.

Not only are such items easy to carry in backpacks, but they can be easily and quickly resold on Mexico City’s black market, explained authorities. Thieves can sell their stolen goods online, but there’s also the option of selling them to shops located in the vicinity of the Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas, a central thoroughfare.

Items are sold at half their retail price, allowing for a quick sale and complicating the authorities’ job in locating the stolen property.

Last year, 12 instances of department store lootings were reported to police. Seven individuals were arrested in relation to the crimes, three of whom were minors and, being first-time offenders, were give lenient sentences.

The Attorney General’s office (PGJ) has rejected the notion that the frequent store lootings and the similar modus operandi correspond to a single criminal gang, explaining instead that the criminals are all “occasional thieves.”

The preferred stores are those located along important avenues and thoroughfares, allowing for a quick and easy escape, said the official report.

Local justice and security authorities have asked department stores to improve their private security systems. While most stores do have private security guards, they often remain passive during the thefts and have been known to take their time in alerting police.

Authorities also recommend that if the safety of their customers is to be maintained, the stores should have extra security measures such as metal detectors. Thieves have taken advantage of the absence of such devices, entering stores with concealed firearms, knives and hammers.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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