Woman charged in armed shoplifting spree

Brianna Garcia (MDC)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Authorities are trying to put behind bars a serial shoplifter with a penchant for filling shopping carts, pulling a gun and sometimes firing shots – even while not under duress – as she flees.

Brianna Garcia, 23, allegedly dragged a police officer from her car in one instance during the recent week-long crime spree that’s targeted big box retailers in the Albuquerque area.

Garcia is charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count each of battery upon a peace officer and negligent use of a deadly weapon and four counts of shoplifting.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office, which is leading the investigation, has issued a warrant for Garcia’s arrest. Garcia’s family could not be reached for comment, and it is unclear if she has an attorney.

Garcia’s criminal history includes arrests for forgery, vehicle theft, drug possession and aggravated fleeing. In 2019, she was sentenced to 18 months behind bars after she pleaded guilty to receiving and transferring stolen vehicles.

The incidents, some within hours of each other, began late last month.

• On Jan. 27, Garcia tried to leave the Walmart off Carlisle NE, near Menaul, with a shopping cart full of stolen items, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Metropolitan Court. Garcia, who was talking on a cellphone, pointed a gun at employees and fled with $250 in door chains, cable locks, clothing and other items.

• Hours later, agents said Garcia showed up to the Walmart at Coors and Rio Bravo SW, filled a bag with items and tried to leave without paying. The affidavit states she dropped most of the items and pulled out a gun when employees tried to stop her.

Garcia walked to the parking lot and fired the gun multiple times before leaving with $118 in stolen goods, mostly dog leashes and kitchenware, according to the affidavit. Police collected at least five bullet casings from the scene but “where the rounds ultimately came to rest is unknown,” agents said.

• On Jan. 31, an agent said employees at the Target on Paseo del Norte called police after spotting Garcia in the store. Garcia allegedly filled a cart “until it was overflowing” and pretended to pay for the items at a self-checkout.

An Albuquerque police officer confronted Garcia in the parking lot as she loaded items into her trunk, according to the affidavit. Garcia didn’t listen to the officer and the two wrestled briefly before Garcia tried to drive away with him “trapped halfway inside the vehicle.”

Agents said the officer was dragged by the car and hit his head when he fell to the ground. The affidavit states Garcia made off with $300 in stolen items, including a vacuum cleaner.

• The following day, Garcia filled a shopping cart at the Walmart Neighborhood Market near Washington and San Mateo NE and pretended to pay at a self-checkout, according to the affidavit. Employees confronted Garcia and she started to toss items from the shelves onto the floor.

Agents said Garcia went to her car, pulled in front of the building and fired a gun at the entrance multiple times. One employee had to dive for cover and Garcia fled, stealing $226 in pet supplies, odor removers and other items.

The affidavit states “when confronted to any degree, Garcia resorted to acts of violence” during the string of incidents. In two cases, agents said she was outside the store and “leaving the scene unaccosted” when she opened fire.

“In other words, the incidents were over and Garcia had (essentially) gotten away when she chose to open fire,” according to the affidavit.