Santa Claus and his elf come to the rescue for alleged retail thefts, carjacking at shopping center

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By KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO

Santa Claus and his elf came to the rescue of alleged retail thefts, carjacking during the holidays - in part due to undercover officers with the Riverside Police posing as the North Pole inhabitants.

On Thursday detectives and officers conducted a holiday enforcement program that targeted retail theft at Canyon Springs shopping center in Riverside, CA, according to the police department’s Facebook page.

Detectives did video surveillance inside a Target store while other officers, including Santa and his elf, (a Riverside Police detective and an officer) waited outside the door.

“As the suspects exited the store with merchandise they just stole, Santa and his elf were waiting to take them into custody for the theft,” the police wrote on Facebook.

Three arrests were made in this operation - one misdemeanor arrest included a woman who allegedly walked out of the store with a shopping cart full of stolen items after making no attempt to pay for the merchandise.

Another misdemeanor arrest involved a local transient who is a habitual thief at this particular store, the police said.  The third arrest was Patrick Seilsopour of Murrieta. He allegedly stole expensive Lego toy sets totaling $1,000 and was arrested outside by Santa and his elf for grand theft.  Riverside Police said on Facebook he was later booked into jail but unfortunately due to the current bail schedules for “non-violent” offenses, he was quickly released with a Notice to Appear citation.

“Changes in property crime laws within the recent years have contributed to increases in retail theft and shoplifting,” said Detective Everth Bercian of the Property Crimes Unit on the Facebook page.  “Theft of merchandise totaling less than $950 is only a misdemeanor, and any arrest made whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, results in little to no consequences for these crimes.”

But Santa and his elf were not done yet.

Three men were spotted in the parking lots allegedly stealing a white Honda CR-V.

“Two of the men saw the detective and ran off but were quickly apprehended by the other officers.  One suspect resisted arrest but was taken into custody with the help of our undercover Santa, and the second was detained by the undercover elf.  The third suspect, who actually stole the Honda, was able to flee before he could be stopped by officers,” the police wrote on Facebook.

Of the two suspects detained - one was arrested for possession of illegal drugs and resisting arrest while the other one was identified and later released.

Detectives identified the third suspect and will be making an arrest for car theft in the future, according to the police.

Anyone with additional information regarding this operation and arrests can contact Detective Everth Bercian at (951) 826-5376 or ebercian@riversideca.gov.

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