'Out of control': NYC stores beg for help against serial shoplifters

Bodega and grocery store owners in New York City are demanding more help to combat brazen shoplifting that is endangering their survival.

Among some of the things they are asking for is to make shoplifting charges stronger, make it a larger crime to sell stolen goods, and make assaults on retail employees and store owners a class D felony charge.

Jason Ferreira runs 3 Foodtown stores in New York City.

He shared security footage with FOX 5 News of a man store workers have dubbed the 'skirt steak bandit' because of his repeated thefts.

"They're just brazen.  They say, 'You caught me today but you are not going to catch me next time'," Ferreira says.  "They have no shame about it."

In a crime briefing last week, the NYPD stated that shoplifting remains one of the top quality-of-life issues in the city.

Officials noted that shoplifters are often repeat offenders.

"We arrested 327 people.  327 people account for 30% of all of the arrests," Chief Michael Lipetri said.  "Almost half are convicted felons.  And guess what.  235 of them, so 235 of 327 are walking around the streets of New York City right now, guess doing what?  Unfortunately, making stores close."

The industry is banding together to form a coalition called Collective Action to Protect our Stores (CAPS).

The coalition is led by the independent supermarkets of the National Super Market Association and the founding members are the National Supermarket Association, the Bodega and Small Business Group, and the Metro Supermarket Association.

The group says the rise in larceny cases has hit independent supermarkets hard.  The group says some robberies have been as high as $72,000.

 They are calling for stiffer penalties for shoplifting.

The group sent a letter this week to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and state and city legislators.

It stated: "New Yorkers expect and deserve to feel safe when they shop– but right now, for too many, they simply do not. This impacts the stores that lose money, workers who are harmed, and consumers who are worried about feeling safe to shop. This is an entirely untenable situation, and something must be done to rectify it before more stores close or workers are harmed."

It went on to say, "We have been assaulted, terrorized, and our physical and mental health jeopardized."

The group is asking for dedicated NYPD and District Attorney units to concentrate on retail theft.

They also want to require bail for repeat offenders.