NYPD Warns of Theft at Trader Joe’s and Other Businesses

The Duane Reade and Trader Joe’s on Broadway between 71st and 72nd Streets are pain points for the 20th Precinct. Photo by Google Maps street view.

By Alex Israel

The NYPD is asking local residents and businesses to stay vigilant following a number of reported thefts at establishments throughout the 20th precinct, which spans the Upper West Side from 59th to 86th Streets.

During September’s community council meeting at the 20th Precinct, Sgt. Condon provided an update on crime in the area. According to Condon, crime is up 1.9% in the precinct this year, with increases in motorcycle and scooter theft, ticket scams, fraudulent phone calls, theft from vehicles, and mail fishing.

A pattern of pickpocketing and shoplifting at local grocery stores has also emerged, according to Condon. “We’ve experienced a large amount of unattended property being taken,” he said.

Condon reminded local residents to keep their belongings in sight, specifically at the Trader Joe’s at 2073 Broadway (72nd Street) and Fairway at 2131 Broadway (74th Street). “If you’re shopping and you put your bag in the cart, please keep an eye on it,” warned Condon. “All it takes is a second for somebody to walk by and take something out of your bag.”

The precinct’s anti-crime team recently arrested a woman who allegedly stole two wallets—one at each grocery store—within an hour of each other. In a “decoy operation” a week later inside Trader Joe’s, the NYPD apprehended the woman after she stole a decoy wallet from an undercover operative and another wallet from an 81-year-old shopper.

Four local residents who attended the meeting also shared separate incidents they had experienced at the grocery stores. One said she felt like there was nothing she could do while standing next to a shoplifter at Fairway. Another said she was shrugged off by the manager when she reported witnessing a shoplifter at Trader Joe’s.

Officers assured the community that they will continue working directly with the stores to mitigate the issues, like they have done with Duane Reade locations in the precinct—which Condon says have seen a significant decrease in larcenies since 20th Precinct commanding officer Capt. Timothy Malin focused his efforts there in April.

The NYPD reports that Malin was recently able to convince Trader Joe’s to install a security camera in their front entrance, and will continue to use his resources to support the prevention of crime there.

In addition to the uptick in grocery store thefts, Condon reported that three local businesses – Equinox at 344 Amsterdam (76th Street), Chico’s at 2300 Broadway (between 83rd and 84th Streets), and Century 21 at 972 Broadway (66th Street) – have all been subject to overnight thefts with the same M.O. throughout the month of September.

In each incident, an unknown male removed items from the businesses overnight and fled on foot, after breaking in through the glass doors and entering under the gate. The investigation is still ongoing, and it is currently unclear if the same person is responsible for all three thefts, which occurred on three separate nights.

Earlier in the month, the 20th Precinct apprehended two suspects who were caught allegedly shoplifting merchandise from the Apple Store at 1981 Broadway (67th Street), three days after they had first heard reports of recurring incidents at that location.

As a precaution, the NYPD recommended that local businesses ensure their surveillance cameras are working, and for businesses and residents alike to report any issues as soon as they become aware of them.

Stay updated on local crime and arrests via the 20th Precinct’s Facebook page:

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NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Been There says:

      Have stores concluded that it’s cheaper to allow a measure of shoplifting than to pay for enhanced security?

      And if that’s their choice then how alarmed should the rest of us be?

    2. Charles says:

      No surprise at all. Bums everywhere. Every time I get on the 1 train it’s one bum after another parading through the carriages with their tales of woe. Bums begging on every street on the UWS. Bums pissing and shitting in the park. But never mind, it’s the greatest city in the world!

    3. Ben David says:

      Just as you should not walk in Central Park if you do not want to get mugged, you should no longer shop in stores if you don’t want to get your wallet stolen! Welcome to New York City 2018.
      And as always, thanks to the brave NYPD for doing what they can, even as our mayor and city council (Democrats) do what they can to make more crimes legal in NYC.

      • A Guy Who Loves NYC says:

        Re: “Just as you should not walk in Central Park if you do not want to get mugged,….”

        WHAT NONSENSE! Are you paid to make NYC look bad?

        We (self and spouse) walk in and through Central Park as much as possible. Not only have we NEVER BEEN MUGGED but we’ve NEVER seen any acts of violence.

        The only people we know leery of Central Park are some suburban acquaintances…but they’re generally scared of the city anyway.

    4. HELEN says:

      SHE TRIED TO MUG ME BUT I SCARED HER AWAY ON FEB 28 2018 @ 7 PM IM GLAD SHES OFF THE STREETS . FROM NYC

      • Happy Ex-UWSer says:

        “Off the streets”
        She’s been arrested 22 TIMES, mostly for Grand Larceny. How long do you think she’s going to be off the streets?
        I’m sorry but maybe after the 10th or 15th arrest, do you think perhaps a judge would feel she’s a danger to society and lock her up for a few years.
        She stole money from an 81-year old woman, let that sink in for a while. That’s our mother or grandmother!!
        Enough of this nonsense of coddling career criminals.

    5. UWSHebrew says:

      she is smart to target women, I see so many women leave their purses unattended in shopping carts to run back to an aisle. if she tried that with a man she would get walloped.

    6. Laura chery says:

      Good job,nypd precint 20th.

    7. MTS says:

      “Left unattended”. Need I say more? Not victim-blaming here. Just giving a heads up to the newbies. This is NYC. Not Mayberry. Don’t leave your purse sitting in a cart and turn away for even a second, let alone walk away for a minute. Don’t leave your iPhone, laptop, tablet, bike, hat, gloves, etc unattended while you walk away for any reason. Granted, I came of age during the bad ol’ 70s and 80s and I’ve never shed my hyper-vigilance, but I stand by the fact that this advice still applies.

      Not only have I seen people leave their personal belongings unattended many times, I’ve seen them leave their babies and toddlers alone while they walked away to shop or use a restroom. I witnessed that in WholeFoods the other day.

      A baby in an expensive stroller and a 3 or 4 year old were left alone at a table for nearly 20 minutes with all the family’s random (theft-worthy) stuff piled up around them. I happened to be sitting nearby and once I realized the kids were alone I felt compelled to hang around and make sure nothing happened to them. The toddler kept looking around for his mom and finally the mother showed up, as casual as can be– 20 minutes later!

      All I could think was that she was from a small town in some country where crime rarely occurs. Still… WTF?? I thought about confronting her and providing a little tutorial on the bad sh*t that goes on in the real world, but… I just had a feeling it would be useless. You can’t instill basic common sense into an already grown person. Really hope those poor kids don’t end up paying the price for their mother’s negligence.

      I guess a lot of these people can afford to lose valuable items and brush it off, but not everything is replaceable.

      • lynn says:

        People are too complacent here. I’ve seen parents leave their babies alone in strollers while they roamed around the aisles of DR. I mean the kids are on WHEELS! How difficult is it to keep an eye and a hand on a stroller while you’re picking out deodorant or shampoo?!

        This morning a father and his approx 5-6 year old daughter ran onto the bus at B’way and 86th without a ticket, and he announced to everyone that he didn’t want to miss the bus so he’d buy a ticket at the next stop. I doubt anyone would have noticed or even cared whether he had a ticket or not. He actually got off at the next stop and told his daughter to stay in her seat. So he thought it would be safe to leave a child alone on a bus filled with strangers. It was a matter of minutes (there were several people using the kiosk) and everyone was mortified and we had to tell the driver not to pull out without the father. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.

      • m.pipik says:

        @MTS,
        I too am a native NYer babyboomer. I see all these 40 and under women with open purses and wallets & phones sticking out as well as unattended ones too. I sometimes have the urge to steal their wallet or purse just to give them a lesson–but I’d be caught and arrested.

        They never learned how to be careful and they don’t think it is necessary. And, of course, they know better than the old folks who grew up here so I don’t bother to advise them.

    8. Judy Harris says:

      You have to find an employee at Duane Reade and get him to unlock mundane items like hand creme and toothbrushes, they have become so security conscious.

      • B.B. says:

        Because thieves are stealing even “small” items like toothpaste, hand cream, tooth brushes, nail polish, etc.. by the hand or bag full.

        What they cannot fence locally goes onto eBay, Craigslist and or other online venues.

        If those who stole items themselves cannot do the online sales for whatever reason, there is a large and growing market of fences that buy things no questions asked for pennies on dollar.

    9. Shibboleth says:

      The Duane Reade on 88th and Broadway is literally robbed every single week. People go in with a garbage bag, empty a shelf and just walk out.

    10. Dee says:

      The 20 is a great precinct. They all work very hard to protect this area. Thumbs up to all the men and women who keep us safe. 💙

    11. Lucy says:

      Just had my small shopping cart taken today at Trader Joes. Luckily store manager helped me look all over the stire, he found a woman walking around the store with my cart. When he approached her she claimed she brought the cart down from the entrance area of the store thinking it belonged to the store not a customer.Really , is that why she was on the lower level walking around using my cart?? How stupid was she to remain in the store…
      Well everyone leaves their personal carts upstairs along with baby carriages, strollers etc. No more, Mine goes with me and I will find a spot downstairs near the Managers area.
      Lucky I let the store handle it.
      I was very angry.

      • lynn says:

        I’ve never been in TJ but if I saw a shopping cart sitting in the entryway it’s safe to assume I would think it was for store use. Same as the baskets sitting on the floor of Duane Reade. And if this woman was stealing it why would she go into the store and shop? Does it make any difference which level she was on? Sorry, but this doesn’t make any sense.

        • B.B. says:

          Just wondering around any store without purchasing anything, and or at least “pretending” to actively shop is tip off number one a person may be up to no good.

          Next career pick pockets/thieves going back ages know it is best to blend in with a crowd. What better way to do this in a supermarket/store than “shop” real or otherwise.

          In any event of a suspect or person is approached they can point to goods in their shopping basket and so forth as “proof” they didn’t enter store with intent.

          Finally think about it; in a shop or supermarket most of us ignore those who seem to be going about the same thing as ourselves.

          So much of the thefts at gyms, shops, nail salons, etc… are done by those who by all appearances “belong”. That is their presence doesn’t set off any warning alarms. That is until they’re gone, and so is your stuff.