Five months after New York City Mayor Eric Adams convened a summit to battle shoplifting, the city’s plan to stop retail theft was unveiled to shrugs and eye-rolling last week.
The plan calls for installing kiosks in stores so that thieves who are reaching for something to steal can connect with social services programs instead, Adams announced on his website.
First-timers would not be prosecuted under the Adams plan. Instead, they would enter intervention programs. De-escalation training would be offered to retail workers who might otherwise try to stop a theft in progress. Neighborhood retail theft watch groups would be formed so retailers could tell each other when they were robbed and inform the police.
“So when people come in that were just about to steal, they won’t because they realize that stealing is a source of a different problem for them. So they’re going to use the kiosk to access social services. I’m sorry, but that’s just a pipe dream,” Ralph Cilento, a retired NYPD Lieutenant Commander of Detectives and an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal College said, according to WNYW-TV.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams just unveiled his new plan to combat skyrocketing retail theft in the city.
— AG (@AGHamilton29) May 20, 2023
Cilento said Adams was driven by the need “to satisfy his liberal base, which I understand he has to do.”
He said the policies will not fix the problem.
“Shoplifters need to be caught and prosecuted,” he said. “That’s the end game.”
The plan has a separate strand for repeat offenders.
Michael Lepetri, the NYPD’s Chief of Crime Control Strategies, told WNTW, “250 people in 2023 have been arrested almost 2500 times, again, that’s 30 percent. Who are these people? 52 percent are convicted felons.”
However, there is no enforcement arm in the steps against repeat offenders, which include forming a task force, better communication about incidents, new mechanisms to submit complaints that could be used if local district attorneys want to prosecute the cases and efforts to limit sales of stolen goods.
“I don’t think they want to deal with it,” Republican Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny told the New York Post. “They are all afraid of the progressives.”
Republican Assemblyman Michael Tannousis said that unless state lawmakers end the revolving door the justice system has become, nothing will change.
“I believe that in order for any type of substantive impact, any type of such an impact in regards to the retail steps would have to come from the [state] legislature,” he said.
“It would have to allow judges to be able to set bail on repeat offenders and increase their discretion. And any type of plan that the mayor puts forth, although it may be well-intentioned, is going to be at a significant disadvantage because our judges do not have the discretion to be able to set bail, or detain someone that continuously commits these types of crimes.”
In an editorial, the New York Post savaged the plan:
“We get why Mayor Eric Adams’ new anti-shoplifting plan is so pathetically lame: It seems like state lawmakers have left him without no sticks available. So he’s resorting to limp carrots — the pabulum (early intervention, diversion services, conflict resolution) that progressives keep peddling.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.