New York City suffered a wave of looting in May and June on the heels of massive protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. That wave, though, residents say, hasn’t ended, even though the city government has moved on to other priorities.
The New York Post reports that the city’s high-end SoHo neighborhood, home to a number of designer boutiques, is suffering from “waves” of looting and organized shoplifting and, in some cases, the attacks are happening weekly.
“Bands of shoplifters are terrorizing Soho’s high-end boutiques, lifting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of designer merchandise, and in some cases, threatening security guards to keep quiet — or be labeled racist,” the Post reported Monday.
“The disturbing pattern began in late May during the riots that rocked the city in the wake of the George Floyd police custody death. High-end Celine was looted of $1.5 million in merchandise then, and the blatant thievery continues ‘every week’ in ritzy stores such as Prada, Moncler, Dior, and Balenciaga,” the outlet noted.
Often, groups of 16-20 individuals will descend on the stores, the Post explains, overwhelming staff and simply taking merchandise.
“In the latest incident, thieves twice plundered Moncler on Prince Street — which sells down jackets for nearly $2,000 — on Thursday, Oct. 1,” the Post reports. “In the first incident, two individuals grabbed nearly two dozen down jackets, the businessperson told The Post. A few hours later, at 6 p.m., thieves snatched ‘more than $50,000’ in merchandise and sped off in a white Jaguar and a black Audi, the law enforcement source said.”
As in other major cities like Chicago, Illinois, high-end shopping districts in Manhattan suffered a major wave of looting in late May and early June. According to The Wall Street Journal, “an estimated 450 businesses across New York City were vandalized and in some cases looted in late May and early June, according to the city’s Department of Small Business Services.”
At the time, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio pledged $10,000 to each small business affected by the looting, but the meager handout, many owners said, barely began to cover the damage, which, the WSJ notes, frequently ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
SoHo was hit particularly hard in the first wave of rioting, according to CNN. “NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo said that more than 50 commercial establishments in SoHo were burglarized. One car seized by the NYPD had more than $17,000 worth of products inside, said Pichardo, who oversees the majority of the department’s uniformed officers.”
In that wave, the NYPD made more than one thousand arrests.
Now, though, the NYPD says it is handling the looting calls as they come. ” Officers are personal points of contact with the community who can help when merchants are experiencing issues with crime and quality-of-life offenses,” the NYPD told the Post. “Additionally, detectives in precincts across the city work closely with our citywide Grand Larceny Division investigators on individual cases.”
Despite the ongoing issues in SoHo, larceny is down across the city. Only shootings have skyrocketed, in some cases, more than 100% over the same period in 2019.
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