By Carol Tannenhauser
Shoplifters with deep pockets hit the same Lululemon store twice last weekend, police told West Side Rag, and twice they walked away.
You could call their actions brazen — or casual.
On Saturday, August 13, at approximately 4:45 PM, four men entered the Lululemon athletic clothing store at 216 Columbus Avenue, on the corner of West 70th Street. “They removed property by concealing it in some sort of laundry bag,” a police spokesperson said. “They left the store without paying for the property, valued at around $9,754. There was no contact, no weapons, no active threat — they passed through all points of sale.”
The second incident actually preceded the first, but wasn’t reported until 6:20 PM, when, according to police, it may have been picked up on security footage that was being reviewed. In the same manner as above, two men removed approximately $6,600 worth of merchandise from Lululemon.
Police explained that the crime was shoplifting, but, because the value of the stolen property exceeded $1,000, it is designated as “grand larceny.” One thousand dollars and below is considered “petit larceny.”
Both the state and city are targeting these types of retail shopliftings, which have accelerated to the point that many stores have taken to locking up their merchandise. In May, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Mayor Eric Adams held a joint news conference to announce the “take down of [a] massive retail theft and crime operation.” The transcript reveals in detail how the operation worked. The following is from Attorney General James’ statement:
Today we indicted 41 people for their roles in this ring. The mastermind of this ring is a man named Roni Rubinov, who created a network to systematically steal goods from numerous retailers in New York City that he purchased and then resold them for profit on an eBay storefront. At the top of this chain were11 people that manage Rubinov’s day to day operations. At his direction, these defendants purchased stolen property and prepaid gift cards from 30 distinct boosters on a daily basis. Rubinov trained these employees to procure and directed the boosters to steal specific items from retailers based on sale trends from his eBay storefront. And then he purchased those goods from boosters for a fraction of the retail price.
Read the rest of the news conference transcript here.
It’s no wonder there are so many empty storefronts in our neighborhood. No sane business person would want to open a store when a significant portion of your items will likely be shoplifted.
In the early 1970s the west side of Broadway between 95 and 96 Streets was awash with addicts and dangerous people. A rogues gallery would be a good description. McDonalds opened a store and hired very fit, large and mean mean security people, West side of Broadway between 95 and 96 Streets almost immediately became one of the safest blocks on the Upper West Side. This rampant looting is not impossible to eliminate.
So it’s not the greedy landlords that gutted some of NYC’s legendary neighborhoods…but store security practices and police? Interesting thesis.
“Greedy landlords” ruined the neighborhood? Come up with something original and sensible.
Just look at your tenants. Not exactly the colorful characters of your youth.
If there were consequences for being caught for these crimes, people would be less likely to commit them. Hopefully since this one was over the grand larceny threshold (thank you for explaining this, WSR) the criminals might face more significant penalties when caught. But there is still no fear.
Remember this when voting for state senate candidates in the upcoming election – their positions are very different. One cares a lot more about dealing with crime than the other.
What’s your view of Hoylman vs Danzilo?
DANZILLO – no question!!! She cares about the safety of our neighborhoods and wants to work on fixing crime, mental illness and making the changes that are needed. We can’t continue under the current leadership, it’s not working! We are all being affected by these problems and need new leadership to improve our streets and make safety a priority.
In the big picture, to stop these kinds of things we need to eliminate the reason the person committed crime in the first place, which is ultimately much more effective than punishment as a deterrent. But that means investing in communities, universal material care, pre-K, healthcare, etc, a living wage to eliminate (or at least reduce) poverty, housing and food insecurity etc. But that’s all a lot harder than just throwing people in jail,, which doesn’t stop the cycle.
And some people are just bad people and enjoy getting away with things. Not everyone is like you Lala.
To simple a solution. Actually, the best and least expensive, and humane one.
Incarceration cost a bundle.
These criminals need to actually be caught first – which candidate will force NYPD to do their jobs instead of ignoring enforcement?
NYPD will do their jobs more if they see follow-up. Why should they risk their lives chasing low level criminals if those criminals will be back on the street immediately? It makes the job very frustrating.
And if criminals know there will be real consequences for their actions, they are less likely to commit crimes. This will not prevent all crimes but it will help reduce them. It is basic psychology. Worst case, I am wrong but I (and many others) think it is worth a shot.
To the other poster, I also think we should invest in education, jobs, etc. These are not mutually exclusive. In other parts of the country they are desperate for people to fill entry level jobs.
“ These are not mutually exclusive.” – I completely agree. We need better schools and social workers involvement for the kids whose parents don’t give a damn about them. However it doesn’t preclude appropriate punishment for adults who are on criminal path.
Why don’t we go back to prosecuting all shoplifting, regardless of how much? This is ridiculous. By having no penalties we are saying “crime is OK”.
Pathetic that nobody working in the store even noticed or bothered to stop those getting away with unpaid merch. I thought most of their stuff had electronic tags that needed to be removed at checkout otherwise activating the alarm at exit?
They have been instructed not to interfere.
Retail employees are often told to not confront them. Would you want to (possibly) risk your life for some leggings? It’s also very easy to conceal the tag from the alarm.
They notice, but employees are often instructed not to stop shoplifters.
Perhaps they were frightened, not knowing if these thieves had guns or knives. I would be afraid to approach.
I am sure the minimum wage employees do not want to confront the criminals. They do not want to risk their lives.
I doubt an alarm would do much good if there is a group involved who will run down the street. Sophisticated enough shoplifters can remove these tags. S o how do you propose to stop them from getting away?
Have security posted in the store.
Stop the criminals.
Call the police.
Send them to jail – if they’re guilty.
Oh….sorry, this is 2022.
They’re out to steal more, again.
“Stop the criminals.” How do you propose to have store security do that? Physically restrain 2 or 3 or 4 (or even 1) person who may have a weapon? Or should store security be armed? A discussion of prosecution, bail, etc. is pointless unless there is a way to apprehend shoplifters. I don’t expect groups of offended shoppers to pitch in and jump someone. I’m open to suggestions beyound securing merchandise.
Your store is like your home.
You would at least try to protect your home.
Same should be for a store.
Security should be some strong and ruff looking dudes, and if need be, armed.
Once the criminal elements get the word that they can not only get arrested, but get hurt in the process, maybe then the crime will shut down.
It’s a matter of survival.
Plain & simple.
I bough a cosmetic item on eBay that had a CVS magnetic tag on it. I called the CVS fraud hotline to report this. The hotline asked for my name and BIRTHDAY! I declined the latter, CVS said it was necessary, and I hung up!
We desperately need more cameras and more cops on the UWS. And arrest people and throw them in jail. People realize now there are no consequences to crime.
Yeah, hey look at Trump and what he’s gotten away with! Great example he has set.
“They remove property by concealing it in some sort of laundry bag …” ?? Seriously? It’s one thing to sneak a piece of clothing into your pocketbook, but it’s another thing to hold a huge laundry bag with thousands of dollars worth of clothing. Sounds to me like an inside job that employees knew about, or why wasn’t anyone stopped? It’s one thing if a perp has a gun; and another for no one — not employees or patrons — to notice this is going on. A guard at the door with a dog and checking receipts as one leaves would be a good idea. A better idea is vote out “bail reform.”
For God sake, read the article!!! These thieves are called boosters. They swarm a store, usually in large groups, often directed by a bigger crook/crooks with a list of desired items.
Then he/they buys it and resells it–usually online. Think mob.
I saw a guy come into Rite Aid with a big, dirty plastic bag. He went around the aisles muttering and throwing stuff like disposable diapers into the bag. Then he stalked out the front door with the bag of stolen goods.
There were several employees around. None did anything. I could have tried to intervene, but I was attacked once by a much younger man in that store and I am too old to try to accost a pumped up thief directly.
There is no reason to start speculating about “inside jobs”. It’s well know and understood the stores don’t want the perp or the staff injured in a confrontation. Please don’t add bonkers theories, that just takes us further from the obvious solution.
They have security guards at this store. Or they had one. This is not the first time during the pandemic that they have been robbed and as posted earlier if the laws allow these perps to get away with it, most of these stores are done for.
Bis chain stores have lots of insurance. This will hardly break them
that’s exactly what is going on
And how to you propose to stop this individual or these individuals? If they refuse to show the receipt to the guard, should the guard have the dog attack them? Or physically restrain them? Also – I question the legality of requiring showing a receipt when you exit. I assume that once you pay for the item, it’s yours and they legally can’t stop you from exiting unless they are willing to accuse you of shoplifting. “Voting out ‘bail reform'” is a popular answer – although I don’t think I’ve seen conclusive evidence that it’s a major part of the uptick in low-level crimes. And I imagine those laws will be tightened. But do you really think store employees and guards want to get physically involved when more people are carrying weapons and are willing to use them?
NYPD has to make an arrest before bail reform is even relevant. This particular Lululemon store has a security guard at the entrance, not sure what they’re supposed to be doing if not preventing this kind of shoplifting
Other stores such as Best Buy require you to show a receipt. It’s a private business – they have the right to ask you any questions they want.
We need saturation policing for the Upper West Side and Manhattan Valley. Also, long periods of incarceration would seem to be appropriate.
I wish I had known there was a big investigation going on. From what I was able to see, stores were doing nothing, security guards were doing nothing, cops were ding nothing, maybe to punish Bragg. Lotta bad feelings going on unnecessarily.
Ah the duffel/laundry bag gang. I saw this in the Duane Reade at 101st and Broadway. The guy filled up a big bag and tried to stroll out. The security guard grabbed the bag and fought the guy, yelled for the cashiers to call the police. They did nothing. They guy got away. Criminals feel completely emboldened by recent policy shifts
What’s up with the NYPD not doing their jobs lately?
I witnessed 2 pharmacy robberies. I was the only one who called the police. Store workers didn’t do it probably because they were afraid of retaliation (big scary guys were still at the store), lots of wintnesses were just busy filming. One of the stores is out of business now.
Oh, and the police came maybe 20 minutes later ,didn’t want to talk to anyone and just leisurely filled out some paperwork. I can’t say I blame them, that’s what they have been reduced to.
Now it is a new normal and it should have been.
From what I see when I go to the office everyday crime is the norm. At least 20% of the rush hour crowd mid town east side don’t pay subway fares – walk through open gates and jump turn styles – no one seems to care and thinks it’s fine to screw the establishment
Nice store, Great lay-out and products. Unfortunately, it won’t be there long given the scale of theft, $16k in a day.
The out-of-control crime in our neighborhood seems to have no disincentive to stop. I worry every time I leave my building. Our “safe neighborhood” seems to be a thing of the past. Regarding Lululemon and other clothiers: I recall clothing security tags that sprayed black ink on stolen clothing when thieves attempted to remove the tags with their conventional tools. If there were a warning sign that cautioned about removing clothing with tags, then a smaller problem would be to stop the thieving gangs from stealing the manufacturer’s device that safely removes the tags! I’m sure that heavy-duty anti-theft systems exist for retailers and it may be the new normal that stores have to invest in them. It’s unfortunate that our District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, doesn’t care to use prosecution and imprisonment as a deterrent.
Lululemon should have closed the store immediately and indefinitely when this happened. I’d love to see a major retailer announce it was closing all its stores in a given neighborhood (or even all of NYC) until the crime situation is addressed. Only when the tax base is hit will the politicians even possibly consider doing anything. Covid restrictions (like indoor masking) were influenced only when the big banks threatened to not call workers back into the office (or move segments out of NYC)—only then did the politicians react because the tax base was affected. The same needs to happen with this crime spree.
Oddly enough, according to a sign on the store (posted before these robberies took place), this location was actually scheduled to be closed and it’s last day is this weekend.
I think you have confused your Lululemons Zack. This one (216 Columbus) just opened.
I worked on the UES for 30+ years pre-Covid so I’ve heard all the ‘snobbery’ comments, but all of the small Madison shops had 2-3 employees and the doors were kept locked. Customers didn’t get in unless they were buzzed in, and in some cases by appointment only. This was for the protection of the employees and the merchandise.
The stores on Broadway limited the amount of customers they allowed inside during the height of Covid, and they could easily do it again. Incidentally, I saw a security guard in Citarella this week. Not the Walgreens/DR variety, but an adult uniformed guard planted in the middle of the store with a clear view of anyone coming in the front door AND going up/down the stairs. I don’t know if they’ve had shoplifting/robbery issues but if they can hire a guard then I have no doubt that chains like Lululemon could afford to provide the necessary security to protect their employees (and merchandise).
This Lululemon location has had a security guard since they opened
Lack of consequences is the major driver for these crimes. We can’t count on only security guards to deter them when they are realised hours later. Not safe for the guards or customers.
Which is exactly why I said Lululemon could afford to provide the ‘necessary security.’ This includes locked doors and limiting the amount of customers inside. Read my entire post. Four men shopping together with laundry bags? That wasn’t enough of a red flag? As someone else pointed out, Best Buy security has been checking bags/receipts for years. It makes a difference!
What do you suggest? Not open doors to males shopping in groups more than 1 ? People of color? That would be discrimination.
Yes, in the past upscale Madison stores used to buzz people in, now it is discriminatory (as it should have been, my friend who is Black wasn’t let in about 25 years ago). Now they say it is by appointment, which is not true, actually. It is an excuse not to let certain people in. If they feel you are not a threat, then they will let you in without an appointment.
In addition, Lululemon is not that upscale, by appt won’t work for this type of store.
You can make it about race if you want to but that hasn’t been my experience. Do males really shop for clothing together in large groups? That hasn’t been my experience either. Keep in mind we’re discussing a group of 4 grown men carrying laundry bags in Lululemon. I’m not interested in the rights of criminals when the lives of store employees are being put at risk. As far as chain stores, even the GAP and BBB were able to control the amount of people allowed in during Covid. If you have a solution then please share it with everyone.
I didn’t make it about race, so please don’t twist my words.
Four men shopping together should be stopped ? On what basis? Are four women ok? Or two women and two men? Tourists shop in groups all the time.
Covid practice limiting people was applied to everyone. Now all of a sudden a store is supposed to limit the number of people shopping together? So let’s say 10 people are already in the store, so they let 2 and 2 on, but only if they are not together? A mother with 3 grown children can’t shop with them? Seriously, I can’t relate to your logic at all. I doubt any store can, otherwise they would have done it already.
The solution is to report shoplifting right away and for the police to respond to it and arrest the perpetrators. The next step is to incarcerate them for an appropriate amount of time. Nothing special is required for this type of the crime, same procedure applies as for all types of law violation.
“Covid practice limiting people was applied to everyone.”
Exactly! Everyone! I’m not the one who brought up race, and no one is breaking up families. And yes, once again, stores have done it already and no one left their children out on the sidewalk. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp.
Way to go, 20th Precinct!
Your visible presence on the streets of our neighborhood is really making a difference!
You don’t even want the cops there. This is what you voted for. Soon, every business will close down because insurances won’t keep these stores afloat due to the high uptick in crime. Defund the police more, soon we will have a ghost town, but yea let’s just blame the police because it’s easier.
NYPD was never defunded… their budget has increased or remained stable. Need the NYPD to actually do their jobs and apprehend criminals rather than whining about the DA…
NYPD was defunded by mayorde Blassio in the amount of
That’s one BILLION to you UWS Dad
This is not “shoplifting” per se, but more of organized looting that has been going on since BLM riots.
These persons are usually recruited by organized crime or others to loot stores. They will receive payment for their services, and goods stolen are fenced on black market by organized crime. That market could be anything from people selling thing out of their homes/apartments/off a truck to more common (nowadays) on internet.
Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and dozens of other online fence thousands of dollars in stolen goods every month. Everything from health and beauty aides to high end luxury goods.
Not that hard to fill a bag “worth” $16K of Lulu
Just saw two cops walking in there 30 minutes ago. Hit again, no doubt. The crooks are trolling us. Time to change our laws. Wish we had the same recall capability as California.
As a small business owner – I am telling you the facts. We can’t afford to pay security guards. It is absolutely true that this makes us want to close our stores and go elsewhere. The 24th Precinct has been AMAZING at coming our aid every time but it is absolutely true that once they are caught, their charges are either lessened or not even prosecuted and they are allowed out with no consequences. How do I know? Because I follow up and I am advised this was the outcome. And I would NEVER want my staff to try to confront someone and risk their lives. More knives are being shown by shoplifters and used every day.
I am PRAYING people will vote for who will stand up for us and help us control the crime and mental illness causing us to lose business every day. Your small businesses CANNOT survive this. It’s vitally important the right people caring about crime and public safety win the elections for our community and your small businesses.
I am very sorry to hear that. I do hope we change our representatives for those who are willing and able to change current policies and procedures dramatically. Promises do not work. Adams was all anti-crime that got him elected. Do we see any changes? None, none whatsoever.
As well , as bad as shoplifting is for businesses, even more egregious things are happening. Like this, for example. Yes, it is from NY Post, even though someone earlier weren’t happy with this source, but sorry, CNN doesn’t cover things like that. And the source shouldn’t matter and fit your ideology, as long as they present the facts.