Luxury items 

Grocery store theft is on the rise on Long Island

The masks have covered more than the COVID virus outbreak in the past year.

They also said they provided anonymity to shoplifters, retailers and security professionals.

They said wearing masks, high unemployment and the proliferation of opaque reusable bags were some of the factors that have contributed to the significant increase in shoplifting in supermarkets.

Karl Dell Prete, co-founder and CEO of the Melville-based full chain Uncle Giuseppes Marketplace, said: A service grocery store specializing in Italian cuisine.

He refused to give a specific flight number to a family business in nine luxury stores. Seven of them are on Long Island.

Another factor, according to local retailers, is that New York State has banned retailers from using disposable shopping bags. The ban, which came into effect in October, has increased shoplifting by thieves bagging goods and bypassing payment lanes, they said.

Flight location

Shoplifting rates have increased in recent years, but the total number of crimes declined last year as a pandemic has resulted in months of government-mandated unwanted businesses shutting down since March 2020 But in major stores, the story was different. . , Supermarkets and large discounters.

Jack President Mark R. Doyle said, “Due to the limited number of stores open, shoplifters have fewer options for stealing, so the percentage of shoplifters who have opened is higher than before. It is quite possible that there were many. L. Loss Prevention Consulting, a loss prevention consultancy based in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Hayes International Inc.

According to a Haze survey of 22 major retailers representing 18,594 stores nationwide, the number of concerns about shoplifting declined 43.8% between 2019 and 2020 to 158,158. The dollar value of the merchandise these retailers collected last year was $ 49 million, or 36.5. According to the survey, this is% less than in 2019.

However, within these large chains, key companies (six large retailers representing 8,866 stores) reported increased concerns about shoplifting by 8.6% and increased value of salvaged goods by 15.3%. . Do.

Walmart, Lidl, Aldi, Stop & Shop and other major retailers declined Newsday’s request for comment. The target did not respond to the request for comment.

In addition to the Long Island store, Uncle Giuseppes, one in Westchester and one in New Jersey, sees an increasing number of customers roaming the supermarkets to help with products and put them in reusable bags. According to DelPrete, the store without payment

“The majority, 99.9% of our customers, come with the intention of buying rather than stealing,” he said.

Most cases of shoplifting are “second-hand” thefts rather than deliberate actions, and stolen items are generally not standard items, Del Prete said.

He said the value of the swiped items ranges from $ 35 to $ 90 on average.

Steak and prawns

But about 10% of thefts were due to experienced criminals trying to sell big ticket items for resale, he said.

“There have been examples of trying to get rid of hundreds of dollars in steak and hundreds of dollars in shrimp,” he said.

As a result, Uncle Giuseppe has made some security changes over the past few months. For example, we changed the automatic door at the entrance so that only people entering the store can open it instead of opening it.

According to DelPrete, the chain is not only hiring more loss prevention workers, but also has employees at the checkout who put all their groceries in their bags, even if they bring their own bags. ..

He also said that all staff are being trained.

“We never want to offend our customers, but at the same time, we want the people who come to fly to understand that it is not as easy as it used to be,” said Delprete.

Bag problem

David Mandel has six supermarkets in Queens and Long Island, one in Roslyn’s Holiday Farm and one in Glenhead.

The biggest problem behind the increase in thefts from his store was the reusable bag, Mandel said.

He said he installed more security cameras in his store last year.

“People who steal from their hearts find a way to fly. That’s how it’s always been done in supermarkets, and now it’s just giving them another great way to steal. Yes, that’s a problem, ”he said.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Aurora Grocery Group operates 24 supermarkets in four states, including eight Long Island stores under the name Gala Fresh Farms or Gala Foods.

Shoplifting has increased 5% since the start of the pandemic, said Jenny Jorge, director of Aurora at Merrick Road in Freeport and vice president of Garrafuz.

“We have found that shoplifters consume much more food, unlike the previously frequent theft of detergents and expensive products. Theft is meat. , Juices, spices, etc. that adapt easily. Put them in your pocket or wallet. “

Gala said she has stepped up store security measures, including adding surveillance cameras, visible and hidden guards and staff in other areas.

Support for food distribution stations

The channel also recognized the growing needs of those laid off on Long Island during the pandemic, Jorge said.

“We have also supported local efforts to feed those in need by donating to various organizations such as the pantry, churches and community service groups, which has led to shoplifting and to thefts. Not to mention it, I hope it will help people in need find other stores, ”she said.

Randish Bindlessner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank, said the pandemic has caused desperation for laid-off workers who suddenly lost their income or did not know when to return to work. .. The Melville-based Food Bank is the island’s largest anti-hunger organization.

“I understand that some people resort to desperate means to support their families, but I want them to know that it is not ashamed to ask for help. The Island Harvest Food Bank says that. We will provide food assistance to anyone who requests it. No question asked. I asked. “

In a typical exercise, Island Harvest served approximately 300,000 people, she said. In the 2021 fiscal year ending June 30, the organization served more than 600,000 people. It was a record.

“These are people who were looking for food. They were looking for service referrals, support, supplemental nutritional support programs (formerly known as food stamp programs), and support for many other services. ” She said.

During the pandemic, especially early on, the new population experienced food insecurity for the first time, said Barbara Stave, spokesperson for the National Shoplifting Prevention Association in Melville. The association provides training to criminals on preventing shoplifting as a condition of trial, probation or diversion from the criminal justice system.

“People who have never shoplifted are pushed to the point where they do what they don’t normally do,” she said.

The number of shoplifters has not declined as the recovery from the pandemic has set in in recent months, said Doyle, a loss prevention official.

One reason is that as stores move to self-service, fewer employees are working in the sales area, allowing shoplifters to steal more privacy.

Low risk crime

He also said shoplifters viewed theft as a low-risk, well-paid activity.

Shoplifting / theft thresholds are above $ 1,000 in about 30 states, including New York, Doyle said.

“Shoplifting cases below these high thresholds only result in minor infractions, with less police assistance and little or no punishment,” he said.

This may be the reason why several Long Island police stations, including Glen Cove, Freeport and the Nassau County Police Department, told Newsday last year that there had been no increase in the number of retailers searching for shoplifting reports.

According to the New York State Department of Criminal Justice, the state counts shoplifting data in aggregate theft statistics, including all types of theft, so there is has no publicly available statistics specifically for shoplifting.

But security experts have seen the impact of the increase in store theft firsthand, they said.

Traders ask for help

Associated Licensed Detectives in New York is a Manhattan-based industry association that represents private investigators, security companies, and security officers statewide.

President of the nonprofit Thomas Ruskin said the call to industry groups for referrals to companies and retail security executives has increased by at least 50% since the start of the pandemic.

Demand has not abated since Governor Andrew M. Cuomo lifted the mask mandate for people vaccinated in stores and other indoor environments in May.

“People who steal can wear masks to hide their identity, even if they are vaccinated. Two years ago, if I walked into a bank and wore a mask, it can be inconspicuous when worn. Masks, everyone will call 911, ”said Ruskin, president of the CMP Protection and Research Group in Manhattan.


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