Retail theft dips slightly with city officials not clear why

There were nearly 500 fewer sticky-fingered shoppers in the city last month — although police officials Friday were vague on what drove the welcomed dip amid an unprecedented surge.

“This is the first time that I can remember that we’ve seen a decrease in shoplifting in February,” said NYPD Chief Mike Lipetri.

Police recorded 4,276 shoplifting complaints last month compared with 4,757 the year prior, according to Lipetri, who joined Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Phil Banks during his new weekly public forum.

The just-over 10% dip could only be credited to a “collaborative effort” with businesses, pols and district attorneys.

The NYPD’s crime strategies chief dodged the question of whether cops made more shoplifting arrests.

The Big Apple has seen a historic rise in shoplifting complaints over the last few years.

In 2022, more than 63,000 reports for retail theft were made — a 45% jump from 2021 when just over 43,000 complaints were recorded. In 2019, the tally was just under 38,000.

It’s so bad in Midtown, the 34th Street Partnership has hired its own K-9 units to deter the thieves.

Deputy Mayor Philip Banks, is pictured on the left, besdie Chief Mike Lipetri
Chief Lipetri dodged the question about how many arrests police have made in shoplifting cases recently.
NYC Mayor’s Office

Earlier this week, Chief of Department Jeff Maddrey urged business owners to force shoppers to remove their masks for identification as a “condition of entry.”

“We need our businesses to be proactive and do their due diligence,” the chief said, adding: “We need to make sure people are identifying themselves.”

Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who hosted a smaller, private sit-down with reporters on crime stats at the same time as Banks’ forum, credited increased patrols in business districts.

Refrigerated ice cream is pictured padlocked and chained at the Upper East Side Duane Reade on Lexington Ave. and E.61st St.
The mayor’s retail theft plan was expected to come “any day now,” according to Deputy Mayor Banks.
Helayne Seidman

Yet it was unclear if those deployments were new or part of last year’s retail crime-fighting strategy.

Business owners in the city have been awaiting Mayor Adams’ retail theft plan after hosting an idea session late last year with district attorneys, New York’s AG and business leaders.

“We’re going to be releasing any day now,” Banks said Friday — nearly three months after the retail summit.