New York Earmarks $40 Million to Battle Retail Theft

New York State is about to get tougher on retail crime.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s fiscal 2025 budget, which was approved earlier this week, included $40.2 million that will be used to create dedicated retail theft teams at the state and local level. This will include 100 New York State Police personnel who will be dedicated to fighting organized retail theft.

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In addition, the agreement increases the criminal penalty for anyone who assaults and causes physical harm to a retail worker from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Other points that were approved within the budget included allowing prosecutors to combine the value of stolen goods when they file larceny charges, meaning that thieves who steal goods from different stores will now have those goods aggregated as a way of reaching a higher larceny threshold.

It will also now be illegal to sell stolen goods to third parties, whether that’s online or at a physical location.

And there will be a $5 million tax credit to help small businesses invest in added security measures such as cameras. The budget will now create a $3,000 tax credit for any small business that spends more than $4,000 on retail theft prevention measures.

“I promised to fight the scourge of organized retail theft — and in this budget, we got it done,” Hochul said“Sophisticated organized retail theft operations are putting frontline retail workers at risk and reselling stolen goods on online marketplaces, and we’re taking new steps to end this chaos.”

New York State Police Superintendent Steven G. James said, “We will continue to leverage our law enforcement partnerships to further ongoing efforts to prevent thieves from targeting the hard-working citizens of New York. The State Police is fully engaged on this issue and will not tolerate individuals responsible for stealing millions of dollars in merchandise, victimizing both retailers and the public.”

Larceny offenses for organized retail theft in New York City have jumped 51 percent from 2017 to 2023, the governor’s office said. And robberies, grand larceny and petit larceny increased 86 percent in that same time period.

Last month Hochul was joined by a group of small business owners in the state capital to advocate for the passage of the retail theft part of the budget. “They told me it’s creating a real threat to their livelihoods, and they’re anxious about this. And they told me how frightening it is when these brazen thieves just walk in, burst open the door, take their time, sweep the shelves, scare people and tear things off the shelves, run out the door, often into a stolen vehicle.

“We’re done forcing retail businesses of all sizes to fend off these brash and organized criminal networks on their own,” she continued. “No one wants to walk into a store to find items locked up behind glass windows, or worse, see one of these sprees firsthand. No one wants to see the shops in their neighborhood boarded up because business owners simply say, ‘I can’t do this anymore. It’s just not working. It’s not worth it,’ because that threatens the very vitality of these communities, which I will stop at nothing to protect. So, to the retail thieves out there, your days are up. We’re coming after you. We’re giving police and prosecutors the tools they need to catch you, to put you behind bars.”

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