Shoplifters are so unconcerned with being arrested within the metropolis that certainly one of them stopped to talk with The Post after ransacking a Manhattan drug retailer — which is closing for good due to the out-of-control crime scourge.
The Rite Aid on the nook of eighth Avenue and fiftieth Street in Hell’s Kitchen will shut Feb. 8 due to the rampant pilfering, mentioned retailer sources who declare thieves have ripped off greater than $200,000 price of merchandise previously two months alone.
A Post reporter adopted one brazen thief on the retailer final week, watching him load 4 circumstances of beer in an outsized canvas bag behind the shop and striding out with out paying.
A guard with the phrase “SECURITY” emblazoned on the again of his shirt watched the thief as he walked out, however did nothing to cease him.
“Sometimes I feel bad for these guys in charge, you feel bad for the security guys,” the thief informed The Post outdoors the doomed retailer.
“I know I do wrong,” he mentioned. “If they tell me put it back, I put it back.”
But they virtually by no means inform him to place something again or cease him in any method, mentioned the person, a local of Senegal who lives within the Bronx, the place he’s a union painter.
He mentioned he was going to drink the beer with a pal who lives close by. He mentioned he’s been stealing from shops like Rite Aid for months and has by no means been arrested.
New York actor and comic Michael Rapaport has additionally caught thieves within the act. In a Tuesday social media post, he showed an alleged shoplifter brazenly walking out of a Rite Aid on the Upper East Side with items in hand.
Store staffers say they’ve been informed to inform clients the corporate is just “cutting costs.”
But the shocking epidemic of shoplifting around the city has devastated this retailer, which sits throughout from two subway stations and is a staple of the neighborhood for a minimum of 20 years. A Post reporter noticed different males shoplifting from the 24-hour location with ease in any respect hours of the day and night time final week.
“They come in every day, sometimes twice a day, with laundry bags and just load up on stuff,” one retailer worker informed The Post, as two different workers stood by nodding in settlement. “They take whatever they want and we can’t do anything about it. It’s why the store is closing. They can’t afford to keep it open.”
The shoplifting epidemic has gone on unabated for months throughout town. In October, one criminal was nabbed and is lastly in jail after being let go for his own one-man shoplifting spree in Queens, with 46 arrests. Retail theft complaints within the metropolis have jumped 36 % from 2020 to 2021, in accordance with the newest NYPD information.
State bail reform legal guidelines have made it simpler for crooks to make off with a cornucopia of merchandise — from bottles of white wine to toothpaste and mascara. Theft of something underneath $1,000 is taken into account a misdemeanor, and unlikely to lead to way more than a slap on the wrist.
But crooks don’t even get that, as a result of nobody bothers to name 911, and nobody — together with the in-house safety guards, stops them, police and retailer sources mentioned.
Numerous workers on the retailer, together with safety guards, mentioned their bosses forbid them from participating the shoplifters in any method. Security guards and retailer personnel at a number of different drug shops inside a five-block radius of the Rite Aid in Hell’s Kitchen informed The Post the identical factor. They are pressured to observe as thieves make off with loot.
“They don’t want us to get hurt,” mentioned one worker on the Hell’s Kitchen retailer, citing the clerk in a Los Angeles Rite Aid who was fatally shot last year when he confronted two males leaving the shop with out paying.
Another clerk mentioned the shop is nervous shoplifters will sue Rite Aid if a employees member touches them or threatens them.
“If we say anything or try to stop them (thieves) and the store finds out about it, they’ll fire us,” the clerk mentioned.
“All you can say is, ‘Please, please don’t do that,’ ” mentioned a safety guard at CVS on forty ninth and Broadway concerning the thieves who are available in and typically even tear off merchandise which have been locked onto cabinets. He feels helpless, he mentioned, “because everyone knows we can’t stop them.”
Beer and make-up are the most well-liked objects to steal, retailer sources mentioned. Some objects are re-sold on Amazon and a few thieves carry objects right down to Penn Station the place they hawk them to the homeless, sources mentioned.
In some circumstances, stolen merch is flipped inside minutes to close by companies. A younger man got here right into a restaurant throughout the road from Rite Aid Thursday night time with 4 inexperienced Palmolive detergent bottles hidden down his pants, which he took out and appeared to promote to the institution. Another homeless man got here into the identical restaurant with a bagful of drinks, together with Red Bull, that he offloaded to the employees, The Post noticed.
A person fastidiously surveying the wonder merchandise in a again aisle of the Rite Aid Thursday night time appeared like a typical buyer — apart from the large canvas bag he carried over his shoulder.
He pointed to an enormous jar of an costly natural clay cleanser, kvelling to a reporter who was close by that it was a wonderful product.
“It’s really good, you should try it,” he raved, earlier than popping the jar into the bag he was carrying with different apparently stolen merchandise, and strolling out with out paying.
Another man with two huge baggage slung over his shoulder spoke candidly about how he works a retailer like Rite Aid.
“I go to the back,” he mentioned.
“Insanity,” Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted final fall concerning the hovering incidents of retail theft. “No other way to describe the resulting crime that has flowed from disastrous bail reform law.”
Store clients, a lot of whom stay in Hell’s Kitchen and have been coming to this Rite Aid for years, had been shocked after they noticed the empty cabinets final week, discovered the shop was closing and heard the rationale why.
“Tolerating this is going to create anarchy. It’s just so wrong,” mentioned actor and longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident Eric Schussler, 70, as he walked previous the empty aisles of Rite Aid Thursday. “There used to be right and wrong in this country. We’re dealing with people who don’t understand that crime pays. We’re in trouble.”
At least one felony protection lawyer informed The Post he virtually by no means hears of anybody who wants authorized assist as of late for a retail theft arrest.
“It’s all politics,” legal professional Arkady Bukh mentioned. “A few years ago there were arrests and prosecutions for shoplifting every day. Now there are almost none.”
Left-wing U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district contains a part of the Bronx and Queens, has downplayed each the shoplifting disaster in Manhattan in addition to organized smash and seize retail theft teams in California’s Bay Area.
“Maybe this has to do with the fact that people aren’t paying their rent and are scared to pay their rent and so they go out and they need to feed their child and they don’t have money so … they feel like they either need to shoplift some bread or go hungry,” she mentioned final 12 months.
A Rite Aid spokesman didn’t straight tackle shoplifting issues on the Hell’s Kitchen location.
“Stores close through a normal business review process and for a number of reasons on local business conditions and viability specific to that store, not because of any one consideration,” the spokesman mentioned.