NY lawmakers debate effectiveness of harsher penalties for retail crime in NYC

Retail crime has been on the rise in New York City, but top legislative leaders say increased penalties on those who would assault retail workers would not be effective. 

Governor Kathy Hochul proposed the bill in her State of the State speech earlier this year and reemphasized it around a month ago.  

"Our shop workers deserve to feel that they are protected once again and not say I've had enough I'm leaving," Hochul said at the time. 

However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie threw cold water on this proposal – saying he doesn’t think tougher penalties will dissuade criminals.


Women being punched in NYC? Multiple TikTokkers recount random assaults

Several women have shared stories of being randomly punched in NYC. Now the NYPD says they are launching an investigation into whether the incidents are related.

"I just don't believe raising penalties is ever a deterrent," Speaker Heastie said. "There’s already things in common law to deal with people who assault other people."

Nelson Eusabio founder of a group known as the Collective Action to Protect Our Stores, disagreed and invited the Speaker to take a walk in his own district in the Bronx. 

"He couldn’t be more wrong," Eusabio said. "We have many stores in his own district, which are crying the blues because of shoplifting and other violence. He should take a walk in his district and see what's really going on."

In a recent survey conducted by RWDSU– more than 80 percent of retail workers say that they are worried about an active shooter coming into their workplace.

Eusabio says that retail workers need more protection. 

"Please think about the victims and not those creating the crime," Eusabio said to state lawmakers. "Please think about all the people that go to work every day and want to feel safe in their place of work."

New York has been losing millions of dollars in sales taxes as a result of retail theft.

And New York City saw the largest of surge in shoplifting since 2019 than any other US city, according to a study by the Council on Criminal Justice.

Right now the governor and state lawmakers are in the height of budget negotiations with the budget due in just a few days.

But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins agreed with Heastie – and cast doubt on the effectiveness of increasing penalties on people who assault retail workers.

"Both houses find that merely raising penalties, does not necessarily get at, you know, diminishing the amount of crime," Stewart-Cousins said. 

 Both Assembly and Senate Democrats are however looking at other proposals when it comes to combatting retail crime.

This includes a tax credit so stores can increase their security and designated funding for law enforcement to go after organized retail crime rings.