New York City Outlines Plan to Combat Retail Theft
New York is setting its sights on combatting retail theft in the city by outlining steps to battle shoplifting.
The plan, which was revealed in a press conference on 125th Street on Wednesday morning, takes on shoplifters and organized crime rings who have wreaked havoc on retailers in the five boroughs.
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With the exception of 2020, the total number of citywide shoplifting complaints has increased every year since 2018, with the largest increase — 44 percent — taking place from 2021 to 2022, the city said.
Overall, retail theft is an ongoing issue for stores across the country with the National Retail Federation reporting theft, or shrinkage, hit $94.5 billion in 2021, the last year numbers are available. And retailers also noted a 26.5 percent increase in organized crime incidents in 2021 over 2020.
On Wednesday, Target said it expected shrink, including theft, to take a $500 million bite out of its annual earnings.
New York City’s plan to fight against this issue comes as a result of a summit held in December comprised of more than 70 retailers, law enforcement officials, union leaders, business improvement districts and others. The city analyzed the results, conducted independent research and data analyses, and consulted with law enforcement and retailers to produce the recommendations in the report released Wednesday.
The plan combines increased law enforcement efforts and enhanced social service programming designed to prevent shoplifting, particularly by individuals struggling with substance use disorders, serious mental illness, homelessness or poverty.
Among the prevention and intervention strategies included in the plan is the establishment of two programs — termed “Second Chance” and “Re-Engaging Store Theft Offenders and Retail Establishments (RESTORE)” — which allows nonviolent offenders to avoid prosecution or jail time by providing services to address the underlying factors that led to the crime. This will include installing kiosks in stores to connect individuals with government resources and social services and a retail employee training program to provide workers with de-escalation and anti-theft tools.
For repeat offenders and organized crime rings, the city will create a Precision Repeat Offender Program, or PROP, where retailers can submit incident reports to the New York City Police Department to help identify and track the offenders and facilitate stronger prosecutions by the city’s five district attorneys’ offices.
In addition, it will establish a neighborhood retail watch for businesses in close proximity to share information with each other and law enforcement in case of a theft.
The program also advocates additional online sale authentication procedures to prevent the resale of stolen goods, a system that will build upon the federal Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces [INFORM] for Consumers Act, which goes into effect next month.
The city will also establish an organized retail theft task force comprised of merchants, law enforcement agencies, and others to respond to retail theft trends.
“Shoplifters and organized crime rings prey on businesses that have already taken a hit due to COVID-19, but, with this comprehensive plan, we’re going to beat back on retail theft through a combination of law enforcement, prevention and intervention,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Last year alone, 327 repeat offenders were responsible for 30 percent of the more than 22,000 retail thefts across our city. This hurt our businesses, our workers, our customers and our city.…This plan aims to reassure our store owners that we know they are essential to our city, and we have their backs.”
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