Suspected shoplifter dies after altercation with Walmart LP officers

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

COVINA, Calif.—A suspected shoplifter died on Friday in the parking lot of a Walmart here after an altercation with the store's loss prevention officers, according to a local news report.

Walmart employees witnessed the man, Jose Marcos Picazo, place $56 worth of clothing and toiletries in a shopping cart and walk out of the store without paying, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Two loss prevention officers followed Picazo and confronted him in the parking lot, at which time an altercation ensued, according to a local sheriff's office lieutenant quoted by the newspaper.

When police arrived on the scene, Picazo was unresponsive and taken to a local hospital, where he died, according to the newspaper.

A Walmart spokesperson told the newspaper that the company was cooperating with local law enforcement and that "the associates involved in the altercation are currently suspended pending the outcome of the investigation."

It's not clear whether this suspect was a professional shoplifter or whether this was a crime of opportunity, but the National Retail Federation's new survey on organized retail crime reported an increase in violence during shoplifter apprehensions. Survey participants said 15 percent of apprehensions led to violence, up from 13 percent in 2011.