NYC grocers’ simple fix for serial shoplifters: Will lawmakers listen?

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New York City’s grocers, large and small, have a simple ask of the state Legislature: Fix the law that gives carte blanche to serial shoplifters.

As The Post’s Lisa Fickenscher reports, Collective Action to Protect our Stores represents nearly 4,000 shops across the city. It has several requests of law enforcement as well as lawmakers, but the central one is to target serial shoplifters by allowing multiple “small” offenses to add up to a major one.

That is: Reformers guaranteed that no one would be jailed, let alone imprisoned, for thefts under $1,000. CAPS wants serial thefts that add up to over a grand to qualify for grand-larceny charges.

More broadly, the group calls on prosecutors and judges to invoke the “harm on harm” doctrine to target serial thieves (as even hyperprogressive Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg did in one high-profile case), and for DA’s offices and the NYPD to dedicate units to address the plague.

“Repeat offenders are the key words,” says grocer Carlos Collado. “We are not asking for elevated charges for first-time offenders, but to send a message to those who make it a career.”

grocery shopping
The Collective Action to Protect our Stores wants to target serial shoplifters by allowing multiple “small” offenses to add up to a major one.
Levine-Roberts/Sipa USA

That’s beyond reasonable, when thieves are packing up dozens of shampoos, ice creams or even steaks and waltzing brazenly out the door.

And, worse, threatening or even assaulting workers who try to stop them. That’s why CAPS also wants assault on a retail worker made a Class D felony — the same protection granted cops and livery drivers. After all, the pandemic showed that grocers are essential workers, too.

One more ask actually targets shop-owners who buy the ill-gotten goods, with a law making it a Class A misdemeanor that can bring fines and even short jail time for the fences.

Rev. Al Sharpton
Rev. Al Sharpton noticed basic hygiene products locked up in grocery stores.
Robert Mecea

Other retailers surely agree: As no less than the Rev. Al Sharpton notes, even toothpaste is now locked up so you have to get a clerk to open the case. And that’s if the shop hasn’t closed, as literally hundreds have. Other stores lock their doors, admitting only would-be customers who seem legit.

The Legislature’s progressives won’t budge on allowing judges to jail offenders they deem dangerous; can they at least heed Mayor Eric Adams’ call to get serious about persistent repeat offenders?

Lawmakers and law-enforcers alike need to get with the CAPS program, or the only stores left in the city will be ones with their own armed guards, ready to take the law into their own hands.

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