New York grocers demand crackdown on shoplifters amid rampant thefts

Thousands of New York City independent grocers are forming a fast-growing political coalition to demand elected officials and law enforcement crack down on shoplifters, an increasingly vicious and violent mob. the Irish claim to have caused the crisis, writes The Post.

The group — which already owns about 4,000 stores, including corner stores and supermarkets such as KeyFood and C-Town in the New York metro area — is calling on prosecutors and judges to set bail for “repeat shoplifting offenses,” and New- Abolishing the main rules in York. The sweeping and controversial bail reform law of 2019.

Collective Action to Protect Our Stores, or CAPS, is also asking lawmakers to make assaults on retail workers a Class D felony — the same protections given to New York City’s MTA and NYPD officers and drivers, which grocers also consider essential workers. they insist that they should get it. .

“We’ve been attacked, we’ve been terrorized, our physical and mental health has been put at risk,” the group said in a letter sent Monday to Gov. Cathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, in addition to other city and state officials. “The rise in theft has hit independent supermarkets hard.”

Grocers say pints of Haagen-Dazs are popular shoplifting items.
William Farrington for the NY Post

The group also wants lawmakers to address a problem at the heart of many of the theft spikes: Thieves typically aren’t prosecuted or arrested for stealing goods worth less than $1,000. CAPS is asking for the law to be changed so that serial thieves who steal more than $1,000 worth of merchandise over time are charged with grand larceny instead of petit larceny.

“Repeat offenders are the key words,” Carlos Collado, owner of two Fine Fare grocery stores in the Bronx and Harlem, told The Post. “We’re not asking for increased charges for first-time offenders, but to send a message to those who make a career out of it.”

Businesses that resell stolen goods should also be warned, the CAPS letter said, asking Albanian lawmakers to reclassify such operations as Class A misdemeanors, which could result in fines and even short prison terms for operators.

As The Post previously reported , grocers regularly encounter unruly men who repeatedly enter their stores with backpacks and large shopping bags to steal items such as Tide detergent, Red Bull energy drinks, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and steaks. .

Carlos Collado is behind the counter at one of his stores.
Carlos Collado, who owns grocery stores in the Bronx and Harlem, has mostly given up on calling the police when his stores are robbed.
Stefano Giovannini for the NY Post

“Ninety-seven percent of shoplifters do it to sell things,” said Francisco Marte, who owns two bodegas in the Bronx and runs the Bodega Group. Very few people are doing it “because they’re hungry,” Marte added.

CAPS’ early members include the Bodega Small Business Group and its 3,000 members in NYC, Long Island and New Jersey; The National Supermarket Association and its 600 store members, including nearly 300 Key Food stores in New York. And the Metro Supermarket Association, which represents about 60 Korean grocers. The group hired lobbying firm CMW Strategies.

Many feel abandoned by the NYPD and lawmakers. As The Post previously reported, a group of Latino supermarket owners who describe themselves as longtime Democrats backed Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin in the November election because of his tough stance on crime.

CAPS members believe the NYPD and New York District Attorney’s divisions could benefit from creating special retail theft teams.

327 unrepentant crooks made up 30 percent of the 22,000 shoplifting arrests last year, the NYPD said Thursday. This means that suspected recidivists were arrested a total of 6,600 times, an average of more than 20 times each.

NYPD Chief of Crime Strategy Michael Lipetri added that “roughly half” of the group are “criminals” and that 235 of the 327 serial shoplifters “are walking the streets of New York right now.” .

Nally Dejesus, whose family owns five grocery stores in the Bronx under the KeyFood banner, said supermarkets have an obligation to tell employees that they are trying to catch shoplifters and stop them.

“If you don’t do anything, you’re going to be the most popular store in the neighborhood,” DeJesus told The Post.

But this summer, he said he saw a thug barge into the store armed with a shotgun after his brother took down a meat thief four times at the Bronx location he ran.

“My brother ran to the back of the store where we have a storage room and the customers in the aisle ran with him for safety,” Dejesus said. “All customers [at the checkout counters] was on the floor – movie style.

The police didn’t come until an hour later, he said.

“We lost business after that,” DeJesus said. “Because who wants to go into a store with a shotgun?”

Carlos Collado stands next to a Lee Zeldin sign in his store.
A group of Hispanic grocers who have always voted Democratic last year endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin because of his handling of crime.
Stefano Giovannini for the NY Post

Collado said that “probably in the last eight months,” he and other supermarket operators, fed up with the lack of law enforcement, “started to feel that calling the police was futile.”

“Sometimes we catch them and we don’t even bother to call the NYPD unless it leads to a violent attacker,” Collado said. “We don’t even hear from the DA. We’ll handle it ourselves.”


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