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'Get him, Santa!': Undercover cop dressed as Santa tackles suspected car thief as 'elf' partner detains alleged accomplice at gunpoint

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The bad guys didn't see it coming

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

Cities across America see serious upticks in retail theft every year during the holiday season, and Riverside, California, is no exception. So the Riverside Police Department set up a special "holiday enforcement program" to target shoplifters and other crooks at one of the city's major shopping centers.

The department's program, dubbed "Santa's Intervention," featured a detective dressed as Santa Claus and an officer dressed as the Big Guy's helper elf.

Riverside Police Department Facebook page

Last week, the operation nabbed more than just the usual shoplifters: Santa and his pal took down a pair of suspected car thieves. The arrests featured Saint Nick tackling a suspect while his helper elf held a reported accomplice at gunpoint.

What happened now?

Riverside cops set up Santa's Intervention outside the Target store at the Canyon Springs shopping center on Thursday, the RPD said in a post on Facebook.

During their operation, officers made three retail theft-related arrests. Then, toward the end of their efforts that day, things got interesting.

According to the RPD's post, detectives got information about three men who appeared to be casing cars in the parking lots at the shopping center. Authorities said they then saw the three suspects in the act of stealing a Honda CR-V. One of the three suspects drove away, but the other two were apprehended after attempting to flee on foot when they saw law enforcement.

Part of the theft was caught on video, as was the apprehension of the two suspects who did not get away.

One of the two suspects was ordered to get on his knees and detained at gunpoint by the helper elf.

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

As the elf kept his gun trained on one suspect, Santa took off and tackled the second suspect who was resisting arrest.

As Santa chugged down the hill to where other police officers were attempting to arrest the second suspect, another officer who was filming the arrests shouted, "Get him, Santa!"

The jolly old elf then performed a two-point takedown on the suspect.

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

Image source: New York Post video screenshot

His efforts allowed the other officers to cuff and stuff the alleged would-be car thief.

According to the RPD, one of the two detained suspects was later identified and released. The other was arrested for possession of illegal drugs and resisting arrest.

Police said they are still looking for the third suspect, the man who actually drove away in the car. A still shot from the video shows the suspect police are currently searching for sitting in the driver's seat of the stolen Honda.

Riverside Police Department Facebook page

KNBC-TV reported that though the driver got away, detectives said they know who he is.

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