New York Shoplifting Becomes Billion Dollar Industry

Blue states that have all but decriminalized shoplifting have seen a sophisticated new economy arise in the resale of stolen merchandise. In New York, items are re-sold via several different channels, and the total annual value of all shoplifted goods is about $4.4 billion.

The state of New York, like California on the opposite coast, is very lenient on shoplifting. Crimes of less than $1000 are not felonies and are rarely prosecuted. The weak laws and their infrequent enforcement both favor criminals.

This has created an underground industry in the Empire State in which stolen items are resold in two ways. First, Facebook and eBay are common methods for moving these items to unsuspecting buyers. Shoplifters will typically sell to a middleman who then resells the merchandise online. Thieves are even given “shoplifting lists” of specific items by the resellers.

Second, many of the items are returned to stores with generous refund policies, using locations other than the ones where the theft occurred. Stores in different states are often used to avoid detection.

Estimates are that 26% of all “new with tags” items in New York listed on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are stolen.

Common items in this illicit trade include makeup, baby items, and Tide Pods. Even perishable food has been a target, as it can be sold in subway stations. To combat thieves, personal items in many drug stores are now under lock and key.

The organized crime behind this black market fully leverages the “catch and release” nature of criminal justice in the Democratic state. In New York City, 327 of the most prolific thieves have been arrested a total of 6,000 times.

“We have individuals who have been arrested over 30 times just this year,” New York Police Officer Michael Lipetri told the New York Post.

So long as they do not exceed the $1000 felony threshold, an arrest is simply a cost of doing business.

Shoplifting increased by 45% in 2022 compared to 2021, with over 63,000 incidents reported to police in New York City alone. One Manhattan Target location reported 646 incidents in a single year. An employee told the New York Post, “People keep taking things, and we can’t stop them.”

New York Democrats, like those in other blue states, take the position that tough enforcement of shoplifting laws would impact only poor people.

As long as this enablement continues, the retail theft black market will thrive. Honest shoppers will continue to summon store employees to unlock shaving cream and toothpaste.