NYC grocers facing ‘rampant theft’ from emboldened shoplifters, forced to endure ‘huge cost’

With laws that are blatantly soft on crime, shoplifters are getting increasingly bold as they hit NYC supermarkets, bringing in “even empty suitcases” and strolling out with premium cuts of steaks and other high-ticket items, adding “a huge cost” to grocers struggling under the burden of protecting their stores.

According to The New York Post, “thieves are showing up with reusable shopping bags, backpacks and even empty suitcases and waltzing out with stacks of London broil steaks, armloads of air freshener and dozens of ice cream pints at a time.”

Should they be met with resistance, several brandish knives or hypodermic needles as they “shop,” and they aren’t afraid to injure any employees who try to stop them.

Steven Sloan is the co-owner of Morton Williams, a high-end supermarket chain with 16 locations, most of them in Manhattan.

He’s seen his share of crime.

“We have rampant theft in our stores,” he said. “We hired uniformed police officers with guns and we’ve never had to do this before.”

“That has helped to deter the thieves,” Sloan said, “but at a huge cost.”

Gristedes and D’Agostino boasts 30 stores in the Big Apple, and according to the company’s president, Joe Parisi, they’ve endured a 30% surge in shoplifting year to date compared to the same period last year.

The spike, he said, is due to the fact that those who lift less than $1,000 worth of loot are usually not prosecuted.

“If they know they aren’t going to jail or they are getting out quickly,” he asked, “what stops them from stealing?”

To combat the crushing crime, store owners are left largely to their own devices.

Gristedes and D’Agostino managers have resorted to marking their pints of Haagen-Dazs and tracking their stolen goods to where they are resold.

In the Bronx, one grocer who didn’t want his stored named has told his employees to gather in groups and confront would-be thieves.

“We avoid one-on-one confrontations,” the grocer said. “When they see that there are numbers involved — five or six employees — they usually leave us and rob the Rite Aid down the street.”

Skyrocketing inflation is providing thieves with plenty of customers for their stolen goods, The Post reports. Passersby on busy New York streets can pick up premium items for a fraction of the price, and unscrupulous bodega owners can fill their shelves at less cost to them.

On West 57th Street in Manhattan, Morton Williams is contending with a serial steak stealer sporting a blue baseball cap, Bose headphones, and a blue backpack. Since May 15, the cagey con has allegedly used a blind spot in the store’s security to fill his backpack with hundreds of dollars worth of meat.

“He’s come in at least four times that we know of,” said Ryan G., the store’s assistant general manager. “I even followed him outside once watching him disappear into the subway next door with two men carrying a cooler.”

On another occasion, Ryan G. was riding the N train after work when someone asked him if he wanted to buy a bottle of Listerine for the low, low price of just one buck. Stuck to it was a $6.99 Morton Williams price tag.

“I grabbed it and told him, ‘You stole it from my store,'” he said.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg made it clear from the start of his tenure in January that he’d only be seeking jail time for the most serious of crimes. He said as much in his controversial Day One memo, which immediately earned him sharp criticism from business owners and law enforcement.

As American Wire reported, hundreds of NYC prosecutors have walked off their jobs as a result of his policies.

Meanwhile, crime has continued to rise.

“Petit larceny complaints citywide are up by 43% to 55,876 year to date through July 3, according to NYPD data,” The Post reports, noting that stealing anything valued at less than $1,000 “is a misdemeanor.”

Last month, Bragg unveiled a new plan that focuses on the “small group of people driving retail theft in Manhattan.”

“No grocer in Manhattan should have to experience theft,” said Bragg spokesperson Danielle Filson. “And our office has met with grocery store owners and teamed up with the NYPD and local businesses to tackle this issue head on.”


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