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El Paso police seek to crack down on ‘beer runs,’ open containers

EL PASO, Texas — The city of El Paso is considering two ordinances, both of them concerning alcohol, that the police department says could help with crime prevention. 

During this week's City Council meeting, the El Paso Police Department proposed an open container ordinance amendment. Right now, consumption of alcohol or possession of an open container is only illegal within the Central Business District. 

The proposed amendment would extend the same regulations to areas around homeless shelters, areas that police say they receive numerous complaints from citizens and businesses. More specifically, the amendment would make it illegal to have an open container within 1,000 feet of the property of a homeless shelter. 

The penalty for this offense would be a class C misdemeanor. The police department says they have issued 505 open container citations in the first six months of this year. 

The second proposed measure is a convenience store ordinance. The ordinance would establish a “registration program for convenience stores and provides requirements relating to surveillance camera systems.” 

The police highlighted one type of crime that this ordinance would crack down on - namely "beer runs," which is when someone walks into a store and steals beer. That is also a class C misdemeanor. 

Police say the cost of persecuting this type of offense is not worth it. In total, the price for the department to investigate these cases on average costs the taxpayer $198.64, according to police data. The presentation by police highlighted one beer run case in which someone stole only one can beer valued at $2.75. 

In the last three years, there have been 5,777 "beer run" thefts within city limits, according to the police presentation. 

El Paso / Local News / News / Top Stories / Video

Dylan McKim

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