Riverside police officers dressed as Santa Claus and elf nab suspected car thieves

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Two undercover officers in Riverside dressed as Santa Claus and an elf were captured on video foiling an alleged car theft during a surveillance operation targeting would-be shoplifters.

Riverside police say they spotted three men trying to steal a car - a white Honda CR-V - Thursday at the parking lot of the Canyon Springs shopping center.

While one of the suspects managed to take off in the vehicle, the other two tried to run away.

Video shows the officer dressed as an elf detain one of the suspects at gunpoint, while the officer dressed as Santa Claus is seen tackling the third suspect who police say was resisting arrest.

One of the suspects was later released and the second was arrested for alleged possession of illegal drugs and resisting arrest. Police say they have identified the man who drove off in the stolen car and will arrest him.

Meanwhile, the Honda was found abandoned nearby.

Several more suspected shoplifters were arrested by police during the undercover operation dubbed "Santa's Intervention." Detectives conducted video surveillance at the Target store in the shopping center as officers waited outside to detain the suspects.

Among those arrested included a man accused of stealing Lego sets totaling $1,000. Police arrested two other suspects in the operation.
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