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Undercover cops dressed as Santa and an elf nab two car thieves

Undercover cops dressed as Santa and an elf nabbed a few thieves outside of a shopping center in California last week – including two who tried to steal a car. 

Video and images show the duo making arrests outside the Target store in the Canyon Springs shopping center on Thursday. 

The Riverside Police Department said the officers were conducting a holiday enforcement program that ‘targeted retail theft at one of the busier shopping centers in Riverside’. The program is dubbed ‘Santa’s Intervention’.

In the video, Santa and the elf are seen arresting two of three men who were suspected of trying scoping out a vehicle in the shopping center parking lot.

The elf is seen arresting one man suspected of being an accomplice in a carjacking

Undercover cops dressed as Santa and an elf nabbed a few thieves (one pictured left), including two who tried to steal a car, outside of a shopping center in California last week

Meanwhile, the man's alleged accomplice was heard arguing with police before Santa ran over to help

Meanwhile, the man’s alleged accomplice was heard arguing with police before Santa ran over to help 

Santa is seen tackling the man to the ground as another officer yells: 'Get em' Santa!'

Santa is seen tackling the man to the ground as another officer yells: ‘Get em’ Santa!’

But the third suspect (pictured) managed to steal a white Honda from the parking lot. The Honda was found abandoned nearby, but the driver had fled the scene. Detectives were able to identify him and said they will be making an arrest for car theft in the future

But the third suspect (pictured) managed to steal a white Honda from the parking lot. The Honda was found abandoned nearby, but the driver had fled the scene. Detectives were able to identify him and said they will be making an arrest for car theft in the future

One of the detectives spotted the three men as they were in the act of stealing an older white Honda CR-V, police said in a statement. 

Two of the men saw the detective and ran but they were quickly apprehended by other officers. 

‘One suspect resisted arrest but was taken into custody with the help of our undercover Santa, and the second was detained by the undercover elf,’ the police department said. 

At the start of the video, one suspect is seen pulling out of the parking lot in the Honda. Police say he was able to flee before he could be stopped. 

The stolen Honda was found abandoned nearby, but the driver had fled the scene. Detectives were able to identify him and said they will be making an arrest for car theft in the future. 

In the clip, the other two suspects are seen being arrested outside the shopping center. 

‘Get on your knees!’ the elf detective is heard telling one man. ‘What the f**k is going on?’ the man responds as he reluctantly gets on his knees. 

The officers told the man he was being arrested because he was trying to steal a car, an allegation he quickly denied, saying: ‘I didn’t try to steal anything. I didn’t touch anything dude.’

Meanwhile, the man’s alleged accomplice was heard arguing with police before Santa ran over and tackled him. 

‘Get em’ Santa!’ an officer is heard yelling.   

Officers also arrested three other people (one pictured) for shoplifting inside the Target store

Officers also arrested three other people (one pictured) for shoplifting inside the Target store 

Santa and the elf are seen making an arrest outside the Target store last Thursday

Santa and the elf are seen making an arrest outside the Target store last Thursday 

The third arrest made was on Patrick Seilsopour, 55, of Murrieta. He allegedly stole expensive Lego toy sets totaling $1,000 and was arrested outside by Santa and his elf for grand theft

The third arrest made was on Patrick Seilsopour, 55, of Murrieta. He allegedly stole expensive Lego toy sets totaling $1,000 and was arrested outside by Santa and his elf for grand theft

Police said: ‘Of the two suspects detained, one was identified and later released. The other was arrested for possession of illegal drugs and resisting arrest.’

According to the department, officers were on site at the shopping center for several hours and made other arrests throughout the day. 

‘Detectives and loss prevention [at Target] conducted video surveillance inside the store as other detectives and officers remained outside to help detain any theft suspects. 

‘As the suspects exited the store with merchandise they just stole, Santa and his elf were waiting to take them into custody for the theft. As a result of this operation, three arrests were made,’ police said.  

The officers said Santa and the elf arrested a woman who walked out of the store ‘with a shopping cart full of stolen items after making no attempt to pay for the merchandise’.

The Santa's Intervention program was conducted in response to retail theft dramatically increasing during the holiday shopping season. It's a proactive approach toward such crimes, police said

The Santa’s Intervention program was conducted in response to retail theft dramatically increasing during the holiday shopping season. It’s a proactive approach toward such crimes, police said

The department said it will 'continue with proactive enforcement operations in its continued mission to prevent and decrease criminal activity in our communities'. The Santa and elf are seen posing with a young girl outside the shopping center

The department said it will ‘continue with proactive enforcement operations in its continued mission to prevent and decrease criminal activity in our communities’. The Santa and elf are seen posing with a young girl outside the shopping center 

The woman was also in possession of illegal narcotics, authorities said. 

‘Another misdemeanor arrest involved a local transient who is a habitual thief at this particular store,’ the statement reads. ‘Loss Prevention and officers recognized him as he entered the store but stopped him before he could steal again.’

Police said he was arrested for trespassing and being in possession of illegal narcotics. 

The third arrest made was on Patrick Seilsopour, 55, of Murrieta. He allegedly stole expensive Lego toy sets totaling $1,000 and was arrested outside by Santa and his elf for grand theft.

‘He was later booked into jail but unfortunately due to the current bail schedules, for “non-violent” offenses, he was quickly released with a notice to appear citation. 

Seilsopour is believed to have committed similar retail thefts at several Target stores in the region, police said. 

The Santa’s Intervention program was conducted in response to retail theft dramatically increasing during the holiday shopping season. It’s a proactive approach toward such crimes, police said. 

‘Changes in property crime laws within the recent years have contributed to increases in retail theft and shoplifting,’ stated Detective Everth Bercian of the Property Crimes Unit. 

‘Theft of merchandise totaling less than $950 is only a misdemeanor, and any arrest made whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, results in little to no consequences for these crimes.’ 

The department said it will ‘continue with proactive enforcement operations in its continued mission to prevent and decrease criminal activity in our communities’. 

Anyone with additional information regarding this operation and arrests can contact Detective Everth Bercian at (951) 826-5376 or [email protected] 


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