Queens County announces plan to help shops kick out repeat shoplifters

Queens County is continuing to crack down on shoplifting. Starting Wednesday, business owners, borough-wide, can get restraining orders against ​repeat offenders who steal or harass workers.

Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz launched the pilot program, Merchants Business Improvement Initiative, back in 2021 as a pilot program.

A store owner can call the police when there's a disruptive or dangerous individual in their store.

Officers then can issue a trespass notice as a warning that their return to that store could result in an arrest.

"Someone gets a warning about shoplifting or about the fact that they are a recidivist, that we know that they are recidivist, or they are unlawfully on the presence. They get what's called a trespass affidavit, and they are warned that if they come back to the same store, that they will be arrested," Katz said.


Greenwich Village pharmacy puts alleged shoplifters' photos on display in window

Shoplifting has gotten so bad at Elm Pharmacy and Wellness that the owner has resorted to posting photos of the suspects on the front door for the whole world to see. "Just trying something different," he says.

A total of 142 businesses from small mom-and-pop to big retailers in Astoria, Flushing, and Jamaica signed up for that program two years ago. 

So far, trespass affidavits have been served to 83 people, five of whom were arrested for violating the notices.

 "This program also gives us the opportunity to see who's arrested and get them help. So out of the five that were actually arrested, we are looking at what they need. We're looking at the mental health services or rehabilitation, drug workforce development, things that they may need in order to stop the revolving door. Isn't that the important part? You stop the revolving door," Katz said.