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NY: Organized Retail Theft Costs Businesses Billions as NYPD Exodus Continues

Published: November 28, 2023
New York City Police Department logo is seen at the precinct in Times Square on Dec. 15, 2021 in New York City, New York. (Image: YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)

New York State retailers say they lost a staggering $4.4 billion last year due to organized retail theft just as data emerged indicating that thousands of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers have chosen to leave the force, making it more difficult to address the crisis.

According to pension data obtained by the NY Post, a total of 2,516 NYPD officers have left this year, 43 percent more than in 2018 when around 1,750 moved on for various reasons. 

The number of officers choosing to leave prior to obtaining a full pension has ballooned as well, up from 509 in 2020 to 1,040 this year, an 104 percent increase. 

Despite the exodus, city authorities have chosen to cancel the next five Police Academy classes, which could shrink what was once the country’s largest police force to the smallest it has been in decades. 

The Adams administration canceled the classes as part of other planned austerity measures announced earlier in November. The city has blamed the ongoing migrant crisis for the measures. 

Patrick Hendry, the president of the Police Benevolent Association told the NY Post that the departures and lack of replacement officers are putting “inhumane amounts of forced overtime” on remaining officers.  

“The workload is a leading factor driving people away from the job. If the NYPD is going to survive these staffing reductions, it cannot just keep squeezing cops for more hours,” Hendry added. 

One NYPD officer told the NY Post, “We’ve been working an average of about 13 to 14 hours a day with a lot of the protests happening in the city. Enough is enough. I’ll have maybe one day off for the week and I’m so tired from work I don’t want to do anything.”

Another officer said that “the job is unbearable now” and that he is looking to leave “sooner than later.”


‘Afraid to make arrests’

A former Miami SWAT team officer, Spero Georgedakis, who helps NYPD officers find jobs in other departments around the country said he is “busier than ever” and has placed 60 officers into new roles over the past two years.

He said officers are “afraid to make arrests” due to the anti-police climate in the city, and that when they do make arrests the perpetrators are released back onto the streets due to New York State’s contentious bail laws.

These circumstances are undoubtedly making it more difficult for authorities to address the rampant retail theft plaguing New York communities. 

Officials from across the state, from Albany to Syracuse are reporting an increase in retail theft, and place the blame squarely at the feet of progressive prosecutors who they say encourage criminal behavior with lenient consequences for shoplifters.

A police chief in Syracuse, Joe Cecile, told the NY Post that his community has seen a 55 percent increase in shoplifting since 2021, adding that this is a conservative estimate. 

“That number is likely higher because businesses often don’t report it — but they do continue to express concerns,” Cecile said. 

Businesses are struggling to stay afloat amidst the losses Cecile told WSTM-TV last month, adding that a single pharmacy in his city is suffering losses of more than $250,000 per year due to the retail theft epidemic.


No help from Albany

Despite the staggering losses and officer exodus, New York State Gov. Hochul recently vetoed a bipartisan bill aimed at addressing the crisis, much to the dismay of stakeholders. 

The proposal would have created a 15-member panel consisting of experts appointed by the governor that would have been tasked with producing a list of recommendations to respond to the mass retail theft. 

An Albany-based lobbying group, the Retail Council of New York State, said they were “extremely disappointed” with the governor’s veto.  

Council president Melissa O’Conner, said in a statement that the governor needs to take “immediate action” and to come up with “an effective, collaborative response” to the crisis. 

“She made it abundantly clear that retail theft prevention will be a priority for her administration, and we look forward to working with her to achieve results,” O’Conner said. 

A spokesperson for Hochul said that the proposal would have cost the state $35 million to address the multi-billion dollar problem and that these funds were not in the most recent budget.