Ignoring Shoplifting Turns Convenience Stores into Minefields
When I learned that an alleged shoplifter was stabbed to death Thursday by a drugstore clerk in Times Square, I was surprised only that the killing had happened at the CVS at Broadway and 49th Street, not at the Duane Reade at Broadway and 50th Street. Over more than three years, since New York’s criminal-justice “reforms” collided with pandemic dislocations, this stretch of Broadway and the surrounding blocks and subway stations have become a magnet for disorder and danger. That a nearby resident — me — must weigh up the relative dangers of shopping at or even walking by one store rather than the other says a lot about New York’s deterioration.
The numbers show that supposedly minor shoplifting has become a crisis, one stemming from changes to New York criminal law and in how New York prosecutes that law. In 2019, the New York Legislature and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo reformed state laws to ensure that virtually no repeat shoplifters go to jail awaiting trial. In 2022, new Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg said that no matter what the law said, he wouldn’t prosecute shoplifting anyway. A person who “shoplifts and makes a minimal threat to a store employee while leaving . . . pose[s] no genuine risk,” he directed staffers.
Photo by Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress