Yavapai County To Crack Down On Organized Retail Theft

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Eric Zelek Hoggs [Photo courtesy Yavapai County Attorney Office]

Yavapai County Attorney Dennis McGrane has announced that the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office will aggressively prosecute incidents of organized retail theft committed within Yavapai County.

Organized retail theft is a crime that often involves someone shoplifting goods with the intent to resell them.

McGrane issued his announcement one day after a Yavapai County Jury found Eric Zelek Hoggs, 47, guilty of five counts of Organized Retail Theft, five counts of Trafficking in Stolen Property, Theft of a Means of Transportation, Criminal Impersonation, Possession or Use of Narcotic Drugs, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

The guilty verdicts bring to an end a chain of events that began on April 13, 2022, when Hoggs took a red Ford Taurus for a test drive from an Albuquerque, New Mexico dealership and never returned. Four months later, Hoggs resurfaced in Yavapai County driving the stolen Taurus. On five occasions between August 7, 2022, and August 12, 2022, Hoggs stole over $1,700.00 worth of cigarettes from stores in Sedona, Cottonwood, and Camp Verde. On each occasion, Hoggs would enter a store and pretended to shop, ultimately bringing merchandise to the checkout counter where he would ask for multiple cartons of cigarettes. Hoggs told the store clerks he needed to get payment or coupons from his car, then left with the cigarettes without paying. When the Cottonwood Police Department stopped Hoggs, he provided a false name and date of birth. He had fentanyl and drug paraphernalia in the Taurus, and eventually admitted to police that he stole the cigarettes to resell or trade for fentanyl, food, gas, and motels.

“Organized retail theft endangers employees and customers and causes businesses to raise prices or even shut their doors for good, causing business owners to sustain catastrophic losses, employees to lose jobs, and customers to pay more for goods and travel farther to shop,” said McGrane. “Although some jurisdictions may turn a blind eye to this type of crime and then express dismay when their stores go out of business, I take these crimes extremely seriously and my office will continue to aggressively prosecute the criminals who commit these crimes.”

Hoggs’ sentencing is scheduled for November 6, 2023 at 3:00 P.M. in Yavapai County Superior Court.

According to the Yavapai County Attorney Office, Hoggs has an extensive felony record and is facing a sentence of between ten and a half years to over one hundred years in the Arizona State Prison.

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