Mayor Adams and city officials have unveiled a comprehensive plan to combat the surge in shoplifting within the city. This initiative aims to address not only the immediate issue but also the underlying causes such as poverty and drug addiction. Additionally, efforts will be made to target organized gangs of thieves.
The development of the city’s new strategy began in December, following a meeting convened by Mayor Adams at Gracie Mansion to discuss the matter. The plan, which was announced at a vacant store in Harlem, encompasses several key elements.
Firstly, the plan includes two diversion programs. One program allows district attorneys to refer first-time offenders to nonprofit social service providers. The other program, court-mandated in nature, incorporates community service, restorative justice, and career workshops as alternatives to incarceration.
Furthermore, the initiative will specifically focus on repeat offenders, recognizing that they account for a disproportionate number of theft incidents.
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“In 2022, we made over 22,000 retail theft arrests. And here’s the number that jumps off at all of us: 327 repeat offenders were responsible for 30% of those arrests.” Adams said. “Those 327 individuals were arrested more than 6,600 times for an average of 20 times each.”
To address these concerns, Mayor Adams announced that the NYPD will intensify its enforcement efforts against repeat offenders and organized crime through the implementation of the Precision Repeat Offender Program. This program aims to establish stronger connections among retailers, detectives, and prosecutors.
Mayor Adams is optimistic about building upon recent indications that the tide of retail theft is beginning to recede. Michael Lipetri, the NYPD’s chief of crime control strategies, highlighted that this year there has been a decrease of approximately 1,000 retail theft complaints, while arrests have increased by nearly 1,500 compared to the same period in 2022.
Notably, there was a significant surge of about 45% in retail thefts from 2021 to 2022. Philip Banks, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety under Mayor Adams, emphasized that the program’s focus will not solely rely on arrest statistics but rather on differentiating between individuals who engage in theft due to hunger or addiction and those who are repeat offenders and opportunists.
“There are people who steal out of necessity. The plan is how to give them their resources,” Banks said. “And there are people who steal because they’re in organized crime — and they should feel the wrath of New York City.”