NYC grocers unite to beg lawmakers for simple fix to stop serial shoplifters

A consortium of New York City grocers united to implore officials to take common-sense steps to end “finger-pointing” and begin to put an end to shoplifting that even progressive District Attorney Alvin Bragg has shown favor toward.

It’s no secret that soft-on-crime policies have been a detriment to the safety and livelihoods of people in cities across the country. Having had more than enough, several small business associations in NYC have banded together to form Collective Action to Protect our Stores (CAPS) and recently sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), Mayor Eric Adams (D) along with the state and local legislatures, with their proposals on how to protect “the backbones of our communities.”

Comprised of nearly 4,000 supermarkets, bodegas and grocers, CAPS has been devastated by shoplifting and, among other suggestions, sought to have small offenses count cumulatively in order o surpass the $1,000 threshold and be treated as grand larceny.

Collective Action to Protec… by New York Post

In speaking with the New York Post, grocer Carlos Collado made clear, “Repeat offenders are the key words. We are not asking for elevated charges for first-time offenders, but to send a message to those who make it a career.”

As the editorial board of the Post saw it, “That’s beyond reasonable, when thieves are packing up dozens of shampoos, ice creams or even steaks and waltzing brazenly out the door. And, worse, threatening or even assaulting workers who try to stop them. That’s why CAPS also wants assault on a retail worker made a Class D felony — the same protection granted cops and livery drivers. After all, the pandemic showed that grocers are essential workers, too.”

Additionally, as the outlet suggested, CAPS had other proposals that included seeking dedicated units from the NYPD and district attorney’s office to handle retail theft; for prosecutors and judges to use harm on harm for requesting and setting bail for repeat offenders; the launch of a public service announcement campaign against shoplifting; and sincere accountability.

“No more finger-pointing. We must hold every level of the criminal justice system accountable for doing their part to tackle this issue, including NYPD, DAs, Judges and elected officials,” the letter read.

“New Yorkers expect and deserve to feel safe when they shop– but right now, for too many, they simply do not,” it concluded in part. “This impacts the stores that lose money, workers who are harmed, and consumers who are worried about feeling safe to shop. This is an entirely untenable situation, and something must be done to rectify it before more stores close or workers are harmed.”

Though DA Alvin Bragg recently demonstrated a willingness to do this, circumventing bail reforms by bundling an alleged serial shoplifter’s 33 offenses in a few months’ time to warrant requesting bail, 2022 statistics showed why he might be reluctant outside of his normal soft-on-crime affinity.

According to data from the NYPD, over the same period, while petit larceny has been on the rise, grand larceny has seen a decrease. However, when looking at broader trends, the preliminary report of 51,557 cases of grand larceny in 2022 is a more than 11 percent increase over 2001 numbers that reached 46,291 and surpassed the 1998 figures of 51,461.

Were the city to begin packaging multiple minor offenses as one major offense, Bragg would merely be putting a bandage on the problem of recidivism created by progressive policies while also worsening the already deteriorated view of rampant crime.

As it stands, more needs to be done, or, as the Post suggested, “the only stores left in the city will be ones with their own armed guards, ready to take the law into their own hands.”

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Kevin Haggerty

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