Along with retail employees and business owners, five influential chambers of commerce in New York City are urging lawmakers to approve three proposals that would toughen the penalties for shoplifters.
Collective Action to Defend our Shops (CAPS), a group of shop owners and employees advocating for legislation that would make assaulting a retail worker or shop owner a severe felony and an infraction that qualifies for bail, is supported by the business-oriented organizations.
Additional proposals in the bundle would toughen penalties for repeat shoplifters and the online resale of stolen goods.
According to Jessica Walker, president and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, “New Yorkers want to be able to walk to their retail businesses in peace, and they want the workers there to be protected.”
“Common sense policy measures that can get the job done” was how Walker described the plans.
Leaders from the chambers representing Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx also supported the effort.
Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton (D-Staten Island) and Assemblyman Manny De Los Santos (D-Manhattan) sponsor the legislation toughening assault penalties, which would classify an assault on a retail worker as a Class D felony and allow courts to set bail for suspects.
Collective Action to Defend Our Shops’ Nelson Eusebio applauded the support of the chamber’s leaders and urged lawmakers to approve laws that he thought could prevent further attacks.
Local economies can’t grow when retail theft is a problem, therefore, Albany’s leaders must act to adopt laws that will protect our stores and provide customers peace of mind while they buy, according to Eusebio.
Almost 10,000 establishments, including supermarkets and bodega chains throughout the five boroughs, are represented by CAPS.
The third proposal backed by the group would make petit larceny a felony if it was committed within two years of a prior conviction and was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Nassau) and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx).
During the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, shoplifting and other crimes increased, leading Mayor Adams and others to push for a reform of the state’s bail system. Cash bail was no longer required for the majority of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies as a result of 2019 reforms.
Despite a lack of data demonstrating a connection, critics have attributed the measures to increases in crime.
Adams urged customers to stop theft earlier this month by taking off their masks before entering city establishments, something many New Yorkers still do to avoid contracting the coronavirus.