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: