NEW YORK - Among the businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic is grocery stores. Owners say shoplifting has increased and there has been little response from the city to combat the crime.
National Supermarket Association General Secretary Pedro Goico says store owners don't even know how to handle the thefts because police officers sometimes don't respond to calls for three to four hours.
"We are having a hard time with shoplifting," said Goico. "A lot of mentally ill coming into our stores because we see no resources from the City of New York helping us with that. Homeless have increased tremendously and people just pretty much stealing items, sometimes even food. We find ourselves in a bad position."
But Goico points out that the National Supermarket Association fully supports the NYPD.
"We are pro-police. We support the police. We love the police. Small business owners are supporting them. There are changes that need to happen. We want to let them know to remember when they put that uniform on they took an oath to protect the city of New York and to protect every single citizen. It doesn't matter the color of the skin. We know they are having issues with lawmakers but put those issues aside and know New Yorkers need them and small business and grocery store owners need them as well."
"Those thefts from stores are mandatory to receive a desk appearance ticket and puts the individual right back on the street," said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. "It doesn't make sense. On a first time offense, I think we would all agree on someone who is stealing food to eat and has never been in trouble of course, we don't' want to put that person in jail but when you have a person who does it over and over and over again, this can be quite frustrating."
In addition, Shea said that police are open to meeting with grocery store owners about the thefts. Goico said he'd sit down with the commissioner, but the problem is bigger than desk appearance tickets.
"We do food drives. We give out food for free. That's not the problem. There is a lot of mentally ill and homeless coming into the store. We don't know how to deal with that."
Goico says the mayor needs to take charge of the city again.
"The lawmakers, stop playing games with us."