JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (PIX11) — City and state leaders are tired of retail shops having to lock up entire aisles of their stores.
They rolled out a new plan to crack down on retail theft with a focus on the few hundred people repeatedly stealing.
“Those are symbols of surrender,” said Mayor Eric Adams, talking about locked-up shelves in stores. “The real indicator of our success is when you see the buzzers come off the doors, and those things no longer locked up.”
With that in mind, Adams — flanked by the NYPD brass, the state attorney general, and three of the city’s five district attorneys — announced a plan to push back against the troubling trend.
His team outlined three basic reasons people are stealing: they need food, a quick score to buy drugs, or they are part of an organized effort to resell the items for profit.
“Arrest the ones who are out there, selling it online as a business absolutely,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks. “But with substance abuse, we want to be able to say… can we get that person these particular services in lieu of the criminal justice system.”
The NYPD reports last year, there were about 22,000 arrests for retail theft.
Of those arrests, 327 people accounted for 6,000 arrests, many with drug or mental health issues.
District attorneys will double down on forcing them into treatment to try and break the cycle.
The city is also helping retailers share images of offenders in real time with police and each other.
City crime stats show that retail theft complaints are down about 5% this year, and arrests are up 20%.