Gov. Hochul unveils steps to combat shoplifting, other retail theft in New York City

Darla Miles Image
Thursday, April 18, 2024
Hochul unveils steps to combat shoplifting, retail theft in NYC
Darla Miles has details on New York Governor Kathy Hochul's plan to equip the state's government with more robust laws to fight organized retail theft.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York is taking action to counter the spike in retail theft over the last couple of years.

Gov. Kathy Hochul joined state and local officials Thursday to discuss new legislation agreed to in the state budget to crack down on shoplifting and other kinds of retail theft.

"Retail incidents involving physical force have more than doubled," said Hochul. "This is just not stealing anymore, this is harming."

The state's crackdown on retail theft patters started during the pandemic, and last month Hochul announced a $45 million anti-theft plan to assure merchants that Albany is not tone deaf to retail theft.

The trend has gotten so out of hand, Hochul has now ruled an assault on a retail worker will now be prosecuted as a felony.

"Going from a misdemeanor to a felony was a change for a lot of people," she added. "They're the ones who allow us to function and thrive in our communities and that's why it was elevated from misdemeanor to a felony."

Prosecutors now on will be able to pursue more serious larceny charges that carry stiffer penalties - by combining the value of stolen goods from all of the different stores hit by the same theft ring.

"We appreciate the changes in the law that will allow Mike McMahon, myself and other DA's to prosecute and hold them accountable for this," said Queens District Attorney Melinda Kata.

Within that proposed plan, $25 million will be dedicated to a retail theft unit within the state police, $15 million for district attorneys and $5 million to help businesses with security.

"You're waiting on line to pay your bill and someone comes in with a backpack and empties the shelves and then walks out and you're waiting to pay your bill," said Kata. "People notice that."

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