Controversy over new plan to deal with shoplifters at Nassau County malls

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Stacey Sager has the story from Garden City. (WABC)

Police on Long Island have come up with a controversial new plan to combat shoplifting.

A pilot program is being tested at two malls, in which anyone caught will be detained and ticketed immediately, instead of getting a ride to the precinct.

"There's a very small percentage of arrests that have been impacted by this," said Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.

But there has been plenty of reaction, and much of it is not good.

Nassau police have begun a so-called Field Arrest program for shoplifters at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, and Green Acres in Valley Stream.

The idea is simple: police can arrest shoplifters in the stores, but then give them an appearance ticket instead of a ride to the local precinct so the officers can then get back to handle larger public safety issues.

"The advantage is 4 more hours of patrol time for each and every arrest," said Krumpter. "That is the advantage. The advantage is, we're putting cops on the street where they can truly impact crime."

Still, Nassau cops will tell you the way to deter crime is to see a police department that's tough on crime.

"Part of being arrested and having somebody walking in handcuffs outside Roosevelt Field Mall, sends a message, not only to the person that just committed the crime, but anybody else that's thinking about shoplifting or committing a crime here in Nassau County," said James Carver of the Nassau County PBA.

According to the Commissioner's office., the program doesn't apply to everyone.

A suspect must have a proper ID, no active warrants, and he or she must appear at a police precinct between 10 days after the arrest and 20 days before their court appearance.

"And you know the criminals are smart, too," said Carver. "They're gonna be ahead of the game, they're gonna get fake ID and they're gonna get ID that's not gonna pop up where there's a warrant."

Shoppers have their own doubts as well.

"So potentially they're allowing a thief to stay within the building where women, children, and respectful citizens and families are, and not taking them out," said Green Acres Mall shopper Karen Weingarten.

"You know, just giving them a ticket, they'll be back here, doing the same thing again," said another shopper at the mall, Tom English.


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shopliftingshoppingnassau county newsarrestGarden City
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