The New York Association of Convenience Stores revealed the alarming statistic this week in a letter to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, in which they called on her to take action against the “statewide” spike in crime.
Kent Sopris, the president of the organization, said the spike in theft has not only hurt businesses monetarily, but has also hurt their employees.
“My members have reported theft that leaves stores in shambles as criminals seek cigarettes, lottery tickets and anything they can get their hands on,” he said. “In fact one store reported a thief threw a pot of coffee at a clerk.”
Retailers’ frustration grew after Hochul rejected a proposed bill last week that would have formed a 15-member task force dedicated to combating organized retail theft. A spokesperson for Hochul claimed the proposal was rejected because it was not included in the state’s budget and would have cost approximately $35 million.
Melissa O’Connor, a representative for the Retail Council of New York State, said business owers are “extremely disappointed” with the governor’s decision, especially after Hochul claimed she would make retail theft prevention “a priority for her administration.”
“We look forward to working with her to achieve results,” she added.
“Thieves that would have been sitting in a local jail in 2019 are now released to continue to steal, and the academics want you to believe the fault is due to corporate greed and not thieves raiding shelves at your local retailer,” he explained. “It’s a false narrative, and it’s just irresponsible.”
The New York Police Department reported in 2022 that 327 people were responsible for more than a third of retail thefts in the city. Those individuals were arrested more than 6,000 times, according to officials.