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Following recent arrests, the Monroe County Sheriff talks about measures to reduce retail theft

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Rochester, New York – The activities of the county’s multi-agency retail theft task group and recent occurrences of retail theft were discussed by Sheriff Todd Baxter.

Concerning a larceny investigation on Jefferson Road in Henrietta, two people were accused on Friday. After being accused of petit larceny, Julious Moss, 58, of Henrietta, was freed with an appearance ticket. Jennifer Rodriguez, 35, is charged with several offenses, including criminal mischief, resisting arrest, and reckless endangerment. She is alleged to have deliberately crashed into a deputy’s patrol car on Marketplace Drive when the deputy tried to stop her. Rodriguez was placed under arrest with $250 bail and committed to the Monroe County Jail.

“For petit larceny; intentionally rammed his patrol car,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter of the incident. “By the grace of God, he wasn’t hurt. He did a fantastic job. The other responding deputies did a fantastic job and were able to apprehend all three and two of them to date have been charged.”

“It’s just not abnormal anymore,” added Baxter.

The sheriff thought back to a previous retail theft investigation that he had encountered.

“I was patrolling the Chili Avenue neighborhood,” remembered Baxter. “We had a call come in for a robbery in progress, out of a Target store. Ironically, I had just gone by and seen one of our marked vehicles in the area of that plaza. I circled back and decided to help out…We were able to get updates as they were going along. We got seven cars there, I mean that’s how long they were in there shopping… Asset protection shared with us that those guys had been in the store a week earlier stealing computers, which was an unreported theft. To make a long story short, we set up a tactical operation so that when they came out, we made an apprehension and secured their vehicle ahead of time. We waited for them to come out, and as they came out, it was me and the one suspect staring at each other about 10 feet apart. I looked at him, ‘Are we going left are we going right?’ I thought he was going to take off running like most people would if they just committed a grand larceny. I looked, and he was wearing flip-flops…you know, he’s not even interested in running. He didn’t come prepared to flee in case he was apprehended. It was just one of those great indicators of ‘man we got a real problem on our hands…’ Apprehension means nothing to them. It is just part of the game.”

The event infuriated Baxter, who claimed that a large number of individuals arrested by the retail theft task force in Monroe County were later freed on appearance fines. Baxter estimates that about 38% of individuals released on appearance tickets last year did not appear in court. This year, according to Baxter, that percentage is trending closer to 50%.

“My job is public safety, law enforcement and it just seems that there’s no teeth in the system anymore, there’s no fear of apprehension, there’s no consequences of your criminal activity. And that’s more frustrating to me and that’s gotta be frustrating for the people that work in store to watch shopping carts walking right by them.”

“A lot of stores simply don’t call,” said Baxter. “We’ve been seeing it for a really long time. These (larcenies) are underreported to a number you would not believe. I mean, people just don’t call. People should be frustrated…The public should be asking a lot of questions right now. When you have a marked patrol vehicle in front of a store and there is still a larceny in progress it just shows you that the criminal element doesn’t care.”

Baxter went on to discuss the responsibility the Sheriff’s Office has when it comes to defendants who fail to appear in court.

“We are sending hundreds of arrests. (We) have to have witnesses to those arrests. It’s a burden on everybody, that’s what I don’t think people understand. They think ‘bail reform,’ it’s a burden on the whole society, it’s a burden on those stores, it’s a burden on those people that have got to go to their shops…They (the court) may issue a warrant for their arrest. Now we’ve got to go get them again; a person we’ve already had in handcuffs once. I mean, people have no idea of the gravity of this thing. It’s not just larcenies and petit larcenies. There’s a whole system being taken advantage of here.”

The retail theft detail of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which is made up of several different law enforcement organizations, is still actively combating retail theft. It has made 72 arrests so far in 2024 and recovered over $11,000 worth of stolen goods.

“We are asking for a couple more tools to keep the community safe,” said Baxter. “Millions of dollars being lost here in New York, just here in Monroe County. Millions.”

 

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