NYC Grocers Urge State Legislators to Toughen Consequences for Serial, Violent Shoplifters

NYC Grocers Urge State Legislators to Toughen Consequences for Serial, Violent Shoplifters

By Yehudit Garmaise

After shoplifting in New York City soared 81% in the first quarter of 2023, on May 9, a group of independent NYC grocers, some of whom were assaulted by the thieves who stole from them, urged state legislators to pass new laws that ensure that shoplifters are jailed and accountable for their crimes.

The group of grocers, called the Collective Action to Protect our Stores (CAPS), represents nearly 4,000 shops of different sizes across the city and wants the city’s five district attorneys’ offices and the NYPP to create units who are focused on fighting back against widespread shoplifting and assaults on grocers.

In addition, after NY bail reformers made sure that bail would not be required for even violent shoplifters, who also could not be imprisoned after stealing goods worth less than $1,000, CAPS proposed that law enforcement officials simply add up the serial thefts of repeat offenders.

Over time, CAPS argued, the robberies, which are often perpetrated by the same small group of people, easily add up to more than $1,000, the number that qualifies perpetrators for charges of grand larceny.

In 2022, for instance, only 327 perpetrators were charged for 6,660 incidents of shoplifting, the New York Post reported.

Because serial shoplifters sometimes make their thievery into careers by selling their stolen goods to other sellers, whether online or in stores, CAPS also asked state legislators to target the dishonest buyers of what are obviously stolen goods, by ranking the crime a Class A misdemeanor that can bring fines and short jail times.

CAPS also wants NY legislators to rank assaults on grocers as Class D felonies, which is how assaults on retail workers, cops, and livery drivers are categorized and can result in sentences of jail time of up to seven years.

Although Gov. Kathy Hochul and lawmakers agreed to give judges more authority to set bail for serious crimes, whether CAPS’ proposed anti-shoplifting measures will be adopted remains to be seen.

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