ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Organized retail theft has been a growing concern throughout the Bay Area. In response, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office has put together a new organized retail theft prosecution team.
"We essentially choke off the demand that is driving what we see is happening in our communities," says Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price.
"Our goal is to dismantle, disrupt, deter this type of activity, this criminality from occurring. And where appropriate, to divert those who are engaging in this type of criminality," says Deputy District Attorney, Brian Varghese, who is part of the new team.
District Attorney Price says what will be different is the attempt to connect the dots between other facets of organized retail crime.
"When it is not on its surface just the theft of a good, but there are intricate networks behind the scenes. People engaging in multiple acts of unlawful conduct, whether it be stealing a car to then engage in the theft-activity," says Tara Anderson, the Assistant Chief of Operations at the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
The team will utilize different investigative tools to make those connections. Those include monitoring suspects' patterns of conduct, analyzing data to support investigations, and cross collaborations with law enforcement agencies.
"Advancing prosecution on a specific track, where the same district attorney is going to represent that case though every major stage as it advances through the criminal legal system. That's what makes this the first-of-its-kind for Alameda County," explains Anderson.
The team also points out that the project will take months to train on, and even longer before results may be achieved. And according to Price, Alameda County also faces some unique challenges that make it vulnerable to organized retail theft, such its size and geographic location.
"The proximity we are to so many other major cities. You know, we are the thoroughfare as well as the stopping place," says Price.
The project is funded by a $2 million from a state grant and a matching $2 million put up by the DA's office.
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