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MANHATTAN, NY – Retail stores across the city are experiencing a spike in shoplifting and employees say they are being left helpless. Many merchandise items are now locked away on shelves as store owners try to find ways to keep their items from going missing.
John Catsimatidis, president and CEO of Gristedes and D’Agostino stores, said he saw a 50% increase in shoplifting in his stores.
“One of our 24th Street store managers, Ray Acevido, was attacked,” Catsimatidis said.
Meat director Steven Grossman stocks the shelves only to be slid, especially high-end steaks.
“Anything near $20 a pound, I guess they could go out and sell it on the open market, or sell it to anybody and make a few dollars out of it,” Grossman said.
Canned food, Tide laundry detergent, Dove soap and Haagen-Dazs are other standouts.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has come under fire for being accused of being soft on crime, but is now taking a turn on certain types of thefts – those he says are committed by ‘opportunists’ .
“We’re also thinking about how to react to that and how to deal with this moment thinking about the things and the people that are really going from store to store and just taking and how we can kind of aggregate that drive and thus invoice it at a higher price. level where appropriate,” Bragg said.
The NYPD says the department saw a 35% increase in retail theft complaints citywide from 2020 to 2021 in petty larceny, grand larceny, and thefts that initially began as shoplifting.
While Chris Paliophilos and other story makers threaten to call the police, they say that doesn’t scare off shoplifters.
“If I say, ‘I’m calling the police,’ [they say] ‘Come on, what are they going to do to me?’ This is their answer,” Paliophilos explained.
In addition to putting locks on some merchandise items, Gristedes will increase security at its stores, and employees believe this will help.