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Crime Trackers: TPD, neighborhood association team up to stop thieves

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TUCSON -

Shoplifting is a major problem in the United States. An estimated 550,000 incidents occur every day, resulting in more than $13 billion worth of goods stolen each year.

Tucson Police Department has teamed up with a neighborhood association to fight this type of crime.

The Circle K located at the intersection of 36th Street and Campbell Avenue is a popular convenience store for the neighborhood. It was also a target for thieves.

"This happened over a course of five or six months," Det. Jesse Chlopowicz said. "They would go in every day, multiple times a day, steal the beer and walk out. This happened every day for six months.”

Chlopowicz works the city's South Side. He and other detectives from the Organized Retail Theft unit tracked this theft ring for months.

Sgt. Nancy Fatura heads the neighborhood crime section. She revamped the online reporting tool convenience store clerks use.

“I am able to have a better format for the way they have reported their crimes and I am able to ID repeat offenders and trends.” said Fatura.

That was how Chlopowicz ultimately was able to arrest seven people on charges of 154 felony counts of aggravated shoplifting, totaling $10,000.

When these people were arrested, detectives made a shocking discovery.

“There were children in the residence where this was occurring," Fatura said. "You're dealing with narcotics use. You're dealing with felons coming in and out of the property. That is a dangerous environment for children.”

Capt. Bob Wilson mirrored this program after the one at TPD’s West Side division, where he worked prior coming to here. 

“Some people might say it is just a beer skip or a beer run,” he said. “It can be tied to burglaries and drug trafficking just a whole neighborhood quality of life issues that we are attacking here.”

That is great news for Cindy Ayala and her friends who live in Pueblo Gardens.

“We're seeing more arrests happen in a matter of a very short time,” said Ayala.

That translates to a better quality of life.

“It has improved four-fold because we are communicating,” she said.

TPD’s Team 1 is quickly gaining momentum with the Pueblo Gardens Neighborhood Association. They are making it a number one priority in order to make this area safe.

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