Manhattan’s swanky and tourist-packed neighborhoods have increasingly become hotbeds for crime – where brazen thieves are leaving shopkeepers feeling powerless.
Grand larceny, or thefts of $1,000 or more, have spiked more than 60 percent in the past year according to the latest New York Police Department crime statistics.
The grand larceny crisis has become so bad that Mayor Eric Adams held a summit with business leaders at Gracie Mansion earlier this month with the spike in retail thefts.
Statistics show that grand larcenies increased by 27.6 percent citywide over the same period in 2021 with the largest increase in Midtown South, which borders the iconic Times Square and Chrysler building.
The grand larceny crisis has become so bad that Mayor Eric Adams held a summit with business leaders at Gracie Mansion earlier this month
Manhattan’s posh and tourist packed neighborhoods have increasingly become hotbeds for crime – where brazen thieves are leaving shopkeepers feeling powerless
Known as the garment district, Midtown South saw the highest increase at 63.4 percent in grand larceny equating to 2,287 incidents this year compared to 1,387 in 2021.
The upmarket neighborhood which has a home sale value of $1,3888,991 according to Zillow.com has store owners on their toes.
Jim Giddon, whose Rothmans men’s clothing store in Gramercy was once robbed twice in about a week by the same gang, told The New York Post thieves aren’t worried about consequences.
‘There’s a true belief out there among criminals that they’re going to get away with it,’ he said.
Gary Karry, the manager at Gem Pawnbrokers on Eighth Avenue between West 39th and 40th streets, told the outlet about a time a crook snatched a ring and glasses worth more than $1,000 from his store over the summer.
‘He said, ‘Oh, let me see that ring, I used to have something like this,’ said store sales manager Ligia Kourany.
‘I showed him the ring. Then he said ‘Oh, you have Cartier glasses, let me see them.’ He liked nice things. I gave him the glasses.
In this surveillance footage a thief, believed to be responsible for a burglary spree at at least seven high-end stores in Manhattan, was captured on camera in July
Here police were asking for assistance to identify this man regarding a grand larceny that occurred within the confines of the 112 Precinct/Transit District 20 in October
Meanwhile, NYC’s Soho and West Village were overrun with gangs of looters – with a group of seven calmly walking out with $30,000 worth of goods from Lululemon
‘He saw an opportunity to run because we buzzed the door open for someone else, and he ran.’
But Karry said he’ll be ready if anyone tries to pull the same stunt again.
‘I have a big machete if I need it,’ he said.
Last week, Adams said, ‘grand larcenies are killing our [crime] stats in the city’ and it’s not just businesses that are getting targeted.
‘Tourists are often getting robbed on our block,’ said Shahid Munir, manager of Antiques on 5th in the precinct.
‘The cops have come to our store at least five times this year to get our surveillance footage of robberies outside our store.’
Ava Homsey, 22, of Yonkers, who moved to New York from Boston earlier this year, said, ‘Things are just getting worse.
‘People are getting more desperate. We’re in tough times. I heard that it’s so much different than last year,’ she said.
Gerard Pozo, 40, an accountant from Harlem, called the perception of rampant crime ‘crazy.’
‘Crime comes and goes, but it’s 100% worse right now. I hope the city gets safer,’ he said.
In the Sixth Precinct, which includes Greenwich Village, grand larcenies jumped to 57.3 percent, from 853 incidents to 1,340, the data shows.
Framing consultant Rachel Lipscomb, 25, was working by herself at NuFrame gallery on 10th Street on Sept 13 around 6 pm when a thief swiped a framed photograph worth an estimated $2,500.
‘I heard yelling down the street. These two men came rushing into the store and were like ‘Call the police!’ Lipscomb said.
Midtown South, which borders Times Square and is home to the famed Chrysler building saw the highest increase at 63.4 percent in grand larceny
She said a third man ran into the store chasing them. They were all yelling at each other.
‘The guy who ran in last just grabbed one [piece of art] and left,’ the worker said.
‘So I chased him. He was just really pissed. We tug-of-warred with it until he acted like he was going to hit me with it.’
Lipscomb recalled saying, ‘Dude, you can’t take that. Hey, you can’t steal that.’
‘Yes, I can,’ the thief replied.
‘What the f*** dude. You can’t take that!’ the clerk said.
Finally, she let go of the frame, and the thief took off.
The NYPD said the same thief who took the art also pulled off a robbery in the nearby First Precinct two days earlier, on Sept 11, at Prince Street and Thompson Street.
The suspect approached an 82-year-old man who was sitting on a stoop and snatched his cellphone from his hand before disappearing southbound on West Broadway on his bicycle, cops said to the New York Post.
In the First Precinct, grand larcenies rose from 819 to 1,184 incidents, at a 44.6 percent increase. The precinct is home to the World Trade Center, SoHo, Tribeca and Wall Street.
While in the Fifth Precinct, which covers Chinatown and the Bowery, crime has risen from 408 to 613 incidents, or 50.2 percent.
In the 13th Precinct, where the store Giddon owns was robbed, grand larceny jumped 25.4 percent, or to 998 incidents from 796 at the same time last year.
In two heists which took place just days apart, the same robbery crew ‘mostly grabbed outerwear, [and] more expensive winter coats,’ he said.
Jim Giddon, whose Rothmans men’s clothing store in Gramercy was once robbed twice in about a week by the same gang
Gary Karry, the manager at Gem Pawnbrokers, now carries a machete to deal with crooks
Framing consultant Rachel Lipscomb was working by herself at NuFrame gallery on 10th Street when it was robbed by a brazen thief who when told wasn’t allowed to steal said ‘yes, I can’
‘One of my employees got punched in the face, and our employees are scared, as they should be,’ Giddon said.
He said he decided to begin locking the 18th Street entrance to the store and put security at the front entrance during business hours, which he believes has cost him business as customers tug on the door handle and walk away.
‘It’s sad for the city that businesses like us have to lock our doors and you have to ring to enter.’ the shop owner said. ‘It’s a sad state of affairs.’
Giddon serves on a task force that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg created to examine the problem of retail thefts.
Bragg has been a major proponent of the state’s bail reform laws, which bar judges from setting bail for most crimes, a situation that critics have said leads to criminals returned to the streets to commit more illegal acts.
‘The recidivists are making it difficult for everybody,’ Giddon said.
‘The politicians who hurried and created a bail law, which was well-intentioned, need to really go back to school and figure out how to make it more reasonable.’
On January 1 2020, New York State introduced sweeping criminal justice legislation, meaning that cash bail is no longer permitted for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, including robbery.
Judges are now required to release individuals charged with such crimes with no cash bail.
The controversial new New York ‘no-bail law’ is expected to curtail the use of cash bail and pretrial detention in an estimated 90 per cent of arrests and strengthen measures intended to ensure a defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
New York’s decision to reform its law saw the state join ranks with California and New Jersey – which already prohibit cash bails for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.
The ‘no-bail’ law has been mired in controversy since it was enshrined into state legislation.