Like Third World! Store Shelves in NYC Half-Empty as Police Blame Bail Reform for Shoplifting Surge
12:15 GMT 10.10.2021 (Updated: 12:19 GMT 10.10.2021)
An increase in thefts at NYC drug stores coincides with nationwide logistics issues as the US transport system struggles to move goods in sufficient quantities on time due to labour shortages and disruptions at ports.
The shelves of numerous drug store chains in New York were half-empty this weekend, the New York Post has reported after visiting more than a dozen CVS, Duane Reade/Walgreens, and Rite Aid stores.
"It looks like the Third World", the media outlet cites one Manhattan resident as commenting on the situation.
The stores lacked many necessities, such as hand sanitiser, diapers, baby formula, soap, body wash, and tampons. The choice was also limited for many other wares as well, like cereal, batteries, laundry detergent, and paper goods.
An employee at one CVS store told the New York Post
that the items from the now-barren shelves were simply stolen. Several anonymous sources with the NYPD told the media outlet that nearly 80 thieves with 20 or more shoplifting charges on their rap sheets are walking the city’s streets at the moment. New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea blames the spike in criminal activity, including shoplifting, on the bail reform
undertaken in 2019 by the Democratic-controlled state.
"Insanity. No other way to describe the resulting crime that has flowed from disastrous bail reform law", Shea commented on the recent report about one such mass-shoplifter, who had 46 arrests for theft in retail stores this year alone.
The reform abolished bail posting for most misdemeanours and petty crimes resulting in those charged being released soon after their arrest. The goal of the reform was to reduce the prison population and remove bail, often unaffordable for detainees, for 90% of arrests thus preventing people from losing jobs and sometimes custody over their children due to being stuck in jail while awaiting trial.
However, soon after being implemented, police in New York unearthed unnerving numbers about the rapid growth of crime levels in the state at large and in New York City in particular, pointing the finger at the bail reform as the main culprit. The latest crime statistics for New York showed 26,385 complaints of retail theft – a 32% growth compared to 2020 and a 38% increase compared to 2014. This September's shoplifting levels
also set a new record high, with stats not seen since 1995.
The reason for the surge in shoplifting is that perpetrators are rather swiftly being released after their capture, the New York Post alleges. The said thieves can walk free the same day after being detained and their cases are often not prosecuted, the media outlet added. Similar problems have been witnessed in Los Angeles since the state passed similar reforms – a volley of videos has emerged online appearing to show shoplifters casually walking out of stores – hands full of goods without even trying to conceal their activities.
The apparent rise in shoplifting also coincided with logistics disruptions across the US that have already led some retailers to warn their customers that not all goods will be available in the coming months. The disruptions have hit the entire transport system: major US ports have long queues of ships waiting to be unloaded, truck companies lack drivers to deliver the wares across the country, and the train system is also struggling to cope with the surge in demand. The transport industry is mainly suffering from a shortage of labour caused by the coronavirus pandemic.