LPD discusses price gouging and stockpiling groceries

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - The Laredo Police Department received dozens of calls on reported price gouging, they say.

It's as simple as taking a screenshot and sending it to PD, which they tell us has been the majority of those reports.

Price gouging is illegal and penalties could be stiff, but we spoke with police about how desperate shopping habits effect prices, not COVID-19.

Laredo Police Investigator Joe Baeza does say yes, people are calling in and reporting instances of price gouging here in Laredo, but also acknowledges that the people need to stop shopping "desperately" because that act creates a trickle-down-effect.

"People are really kind of desperate when really there shouldn't be an issue of desperation. We're creating this problem. The virus isn't the reason why we can't find certain items. The market itself, people are stockpiling, they're going to the stores, buying everything in sight, they're going multiple times. We have officers who are working at the stores and they're telling us, those people have been back at least three or four times in the same week buying the same item."

Especially in the wake of an emergency or disaster, businesses are still responsible for practicing fair trade.

Police have a specific team looking out for price gouging, and encourage the public to be their eyes and ears.

"If you see somebody on the corner of an intersection trying to sell bathroom tissue at an exorbitant amount of money, we want to know about it so we can take care of it and address it."

With measures like social distancing in place, and very limited public engagement, people find themselves more alone, especially the elderly community, which police say is a vulnerable and prime target for online scammers.

"If you have senior age people who are independent, who don't live with you, have a chat with them, and tell them to be very careful and very leary of people who are pretending to be the social security office, pretending to be from the U.S. government, from the IRS collection agencies. Right now, its prime."

Police tell us that no official victim reports have been filed, also adding that retailers have been "pretty good" in Laredo about pricing.