The NYPD will keep a list of the city’s most persistent thieves to curb rampant shoplifting in the Big Apple, Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday as the city unveiled its long-awaited city retail theft strategy plan.
The Precision Repeat Offender Program, or PROP, is one of a series of proposals laid out in the 33-page “Combating Retail Theft” report released Wednesday — months after Adams convened a Gracie Mansion summit on the problem last year and promised to find solutions.
The report focuses on intervention programs for first-time shoplifters and would-be offenders while also targeting the serial retail thieves responsible for most heists.
Among the initiatives pitched in the report:
- The city will launch a pair of early intervention programs to give first-time offenders a chance to avoid prosecution and allow convicted crooks to dodge jail by enrolling in community-based help services.
- Bodegas and smaller retailers could get kiosks to put potential shoplifters in touch with services like food stamps, jobs, mental health treatment and housing help. Merchants “are often aware of early warning signals,” the report said.
- Retail workers who are victims of crime or could be in harm’s way can get training in conflict resolution or de-escalation tactics and get access to victims’ services.
Despite the new programs, officials concede that there is still one obstacle in the way — lenient state laws that bar local prosecutors from locking up career crooks.
“I believe that in order for any type of substantive impact, any type of such an impact in regards to the retail steps would have to come from the legislature,” said state Assemblyman Michael Tannousis. R-Staten Island.
“It would have to allow judges to be able to set bail on repeat offenders and increase their discretion,” he said. “And any type of plan that the mayor puts forth, although it may be well-intentioned, is going to be at a significant disadvantage because our judges do not have the discretion to be able to set bail, or detain someone that continuously commits these types of crimes.”
Retail thefts in New York City have spiked by 77% over the past five years, and have dipped only slightly so far this year despite more cops on the retail beat and prosecutors more focused on the issue.
According to NYPD stats, there were 13,738 reported retail thefts through the end of March this year, down just a tick from the 14,790 over the same span in 2022.
NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael Lipetri said repeat offenders are driving the numbers.
“Of the arrests this year of retail theft, 70% of arrestees this year have been arrested for prior shoplifting complaints,” Lipetri said. “We have individuals that have been arrested over 30 times just this year targeting the same businesses.”
In December, Adams held a retail theft summit with city retailers, community groups and law enforcement to hash out a strategy on retail thefts — although the mayor himself skipped out after 20 minutes.
Despite the initiatives and rhetoric at a press conference announcing the report on Wednesday, Adams did not seek funding for any of the retail theft programs before the state’s $229 billion budget was finalized — leaving some critics to question whether city officials are serious about tackling the issue.
“I don’t think they want to deal with it,” Brooklyn Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny told The Post. “They are all afraid of the progressives.”
Meanwhile, Nelson Eusabio of the Collective Action to Protect Our Stores thanked Adams and other officials for helping to compile the report — but said there needs to be more.
“Now it is up to legislators in Albany to finish the job and pass bills that will protect retail workers so that we can work in peace,” Eusabio said.
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