EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- In a surprise move by the retail giant Target, the company is shutting down several stores across the country including one in East Harlem, saying theft and crime are to blame.
However, New York officers say they've been taking several measures to protect this particular store and are now speaking out about the sudden decision.
At the Target in East Harlem on Tuesday, workers closed shop early with new shorter hours now in effect, before the store shuts down for good.
The location, in the East River Plaza at 116th and the FDR Drive, is one of nine stores the retailer announced will close in just a few weeks, but it's the only one on the East Coast.
The company lumped it in with eight other locations, including stores in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
"We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all," Target said in a statement.
New York officers are no strangers to the shopping center, and specifically to the Target, where on Tuesday evening, they responded to a fight between two customers.
But when it comes to retail theft, police say they thought they were making progress.
"I'm disappointed to hear it," said NYPD Deputy Inspector Raul Maisonet.
Maisonet is commanding officer of the local 25th Precinct. He says that in recent months he's actively partnered with Target, which was paying for additional police presence inside the store, while he posted extra cops on the street.
As a result, he says shoplifting arrests went up, while actual incidents dropped.
Across the city, the Manhattan district attorney says shoplifting cases are down 14%.
"The city in general has been trying to put our heads together on what we can do to combat some of this," Maisonet said. "And I think it is chipping away at the root of the problem."
Target wasn't clear about how it made this decision, or what places this location in the same league as stores in other cities where widespread plundering is a daily occurrence.
"El Barrio depends on places like this to survive and no one likes to hear that big partners in the community are leaving," Maisonet said.
This was the first Target in Manhattan. It opened in 2009 to great fanfare about bringing new retail to an underserved community.
Now, it will close for good on October 21.