One elf definitely didn’t stay on the shelf this Christmas season in California — much to the dismay of would-be car thieves.
According to KABC-TV, the elf was part of a Santa-and-helper duo that were undercover police officers. Their workshop on Dec. 10: the Canyon Springs Shopping Center in Riverside.
The right jolly old elf and his companion actually weren’t there to stop car theft. Instead, they were trying to stymie theft of the garden variety. Yes, even in 2020, there are shoplifters among us — and, given the relative paucity of shoppers, they probably are easier to spot.
More difficult to find, however, are car thieves — which is exactly what this duo had to deal with after several other arrests that day.
“Toward the conclusion of the operation, detectives received information about three suspicious men casing vehicles in the shopping center parking lots. One of the undercover detectives spotted these three men as they were in the act of stealing an older white Honda CR-V,” read a Facebook post from the Riverside Police Department on Dec. 11.
“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 stolen Honda was found abandoned nearby and [the] suspect driver was not located, but detectives have him identified and will be making an arrest for car theft in the future.”
The third suspect can be seen in this KABC video, which also shows Santa and his elf putting some people on (sigh, yes, I’m going to use the pun) the naughty list:
“Of the two suspects detained, one was identified and later released. The other was arrested for possession of illegal drugs and resisting arrest,” read the Facebook post from the Riverside Police Department.
At least they’ll always remember the elf was packing heat.
Sadly, there’s a reason Santa and his elf were undercover officers at a Target in Riverside. Because of how California now treats property crimes, they’ve become much more frequent in recent years.
“Changes in property crime laws within the recent years have contributed to increases in retail theft and shoplifting,” according to the Facebook statement. “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.”
In 2014, Californians passed Proposition 47, named the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” without a bit of irony. Unless the individual being charged had convictions for crimes such as murder and rape, theft of under $950 became a misdemeanor and one that California’s court system didn’t pay much attention to.
Criminals are well aware of this.
“They know the law,” Vacaville Police Lt. Mark Donaldson told KOVR-TV in Sacramento in 2019. “One of the first things they ask us [is], ‘Can’t I just get a ticket so I can be on my way?’”
Car theft, however, is still considered pretty serious under California law, and you don’t just get a ticket and go on your merry way.
The operation netted three other arrests on Dec. 10.
In one case, police say, a woman walked out of the store with a shopping cart filled with items she hadn’t paid for; she also had illegal drugs in her possession. A second individual who had been banned from the store due to chronic thefts was arrested for alleged trespassing and possession of illegal drugs.
“The third arrest made was on Patrick Seilsopour, 55-years-old of Murrieta. He stole expensive Lego toy sets totaling $1,000 and was arrested outside by Santa and his elf for grand theft,” Riverside Police announced.
“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. Mr. Seilsopour is believed to have committed similar retail thefts at several Target stores in the region.”
So no, it likely won’t be the merriest of Christmases for any of these alleged criminals.
For this Santa and elf team, though, they can rest easy knowing they’ve more than done their job even before the sleigh has been loaded.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.