By Forum Staff
Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday launched a task force to support implementation of his plan to combat retail theft across the five boroughs.
Led by Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III, the task force delivers on a key commitment outlined in Adams’ “Retail Theft Report” — created through a collaborative effort between retailers, law enforcement, and other stakeholders — that included upstream, program-oriented solutions and enhanced enforcement efforts to combat retail theft.
The task force brings together elected officials, including State Attorney General Tish James and all five district attorneys, with additional representatives from law enforcement, as well as local business groups, national retailers, and organized labor. The Adams administration will be represented by the Office of Public Safety, the City Police Department (NYPD), the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ), and the City Department of Small Business Services (SBS).
After shoplifting rose in the Big Apple and cities across the nation over several years, the Adams administration’s partnerships with retailers and enhanced enforcement have begun to turn the tide. With the exception of 2020, the total number of citywide shoplifting complaints increased year over year between 2018 and 2022, with the largest increase — 44 percent — taking place from 2021 to 2022. However, year-to-date in 2023, shoplifting complaints are down 7.9 percent citywide as compared to 2022. Arrests for shoplifting increased 16.4 percent year-to-date in 2023 as compared to 2022 due to the NYPD’s enhanced enforcement efforts.
The task force will advise the Adams administration on legislative proposals aimed at addressing retail theft, enhance intelligence sharing between stakeholders to identify and respond to emerging shoplifting trends and crime patterns, and ensure best practices are implemented throughout the city to utilize cutting-edge technology to deter, prevent, and respond to retail theft effectively.
In December 2022, Adams convened a summit with more than 70 stakeholders to collaborate on policy and find creative solutions to address retail theft across the city. The Adams administration then analyzed the information shared by the attendees at the summit, conducted independent research and data analyses, and consulted with law enforcement and retail business management to develop recommendations in the Retail Theft Report.
Those recommendations consist of targeted solutions to reduce retail theft perpetrated by both individual shoplifters and organized crime rings. This includes a combination of increased law enforcement efforts and enhanced social service programming and resources to prevent shoplifting, particularly by individuals struggling with substance use disorders, serious mental illness, homelessness, or poverty.
Additional members of the task force:
Local Business Organizations: 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID), Association Bodegueros, Bodega and Small Business Association of New York, Chinatown Partnership, Fine Fare Supermarkets, Flatbush-Nostrand Junction BID, Flushing BID/Flushing Chinese Business Association, Fordham Road BID, Grand Street BID, Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, Jamaica Center BID, Korean American Business Council, Latino Supermarket Association, Madison Avenue BID, Pitkin Avenue BID, Retail Council of New York State, Washington Heights BID, and Yemeni American Merchants Association.
Organized Labor: Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
National Retailers: Gap Inc., LVMH, Macy’s, Starbucks, Target, Ulta, Victoria’s Secret, and Walgreen Co.
“Because of the collaborative actions taken in the last few months between government, the private sector, law enforcement, and, most importantly, local businesses, retail theft is down this year, but there is always more work to do,” Adams said.