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Aurora City Council passes ordinance that requires jail time for shoplifting, theft of $100 or more

G&E Wine and Spirits in Aurora
Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-11 20:45:38-04

AURORA, Colo. — In a 7-3 vote, the Aurora City Council on Monday approved an update to the city's retail theft ordinance that makes shoplifting an arrestable offense.

The update applies to theft of $100 or more from any retailer. A first offense now features a mandatory minimum of three days in jail with no eligibility for probation. A second offense has a mandatory minimum of 45 days in jail, while a third offense has a mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail.

Previously, the retail theft ordinance did not have mandatory jail time. It also set the threshold of shoplifting at $300 or more.

Aurora City Councilmember At-Large Danielle Jurinsky said the update puts thieves on notice.

“I think absolutely, there needs to be teeth behind the law,” Jurinsky said. “Every crime is down across the board in Aurora except retail theft.”

According to the Aurora Police Department's Transparency Portal, roughly 7,900 thefts were reported in 2023, slightly down from the 8,000 thefts that were reported in 2022. From Jan. 1 to Feb. 27, there have been 964 thefts reported so far this year.

Donovan Welsh, owner of Havanna Auto Parts in Aurora, said nearly everything is a hot target for thieves in the world of auto parts.

“We had to move the tools back here,” Welsh said, pointing to a shelving wall near the cash registers and customer service desk. “They’ll steal anything they think they can resell or that has value. They’ll try to resell it on Amazon or try to return it to another auto parts store.”

Aurora City Council passes ordinance that requires jailtime for shoplifting, theft of $100 or more

Welsh said his stores have been vulnerable for a long time now.

“And these guys are dangerous,” Welsh said. “Thieves are as good at it as you are at what you do. We recently had two of them with a get-away car outside. These guys knew exactly what they were doing, what they were looking for.”

At G&E Liquors, someone used a stolen Hummer as a battering ram and drove through the front door.

“We have been experiencing shoplifting for a while without any consequences,” said G&E Liquors owner Girum Alemayehu.

The business owners told Denver7 they invested their own money in theft prevention tools. Alemayehu put in a metal reinforcement door and three boulders out front.

“I think it helps,” Alemayehu said. “As an owner, I want the city to protect us, as well, because we do business on little margins.”

“We want a city ordinance to have it stop,” said Welsh. “You want people to feel safe at work.”

Jurinsky said there's also an ordinance regarding dining and dashing that passed its first reading. Under the ordinance, anyone who dines and dashes on a bill of $15 or more would be subject to arrest.

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