In response to a sharp uptick in shoplifting incidents, organizations representing New York City’s independent grocers are rallying for the implementation of stricter anti-shoplifting laws. The proposed legislation would increase the penalty for assaulting retail workers and reoffending shoplifters, as well as introduce a new crime for online sale of stolen goods.
Shoplifting crimes in NYC have soared by 81% through the first quarter of 2023, prompting a call for state legislators to pass new laws. The Collective Action to Protect Our Stores, a group representing thousands of NYC’s independent grocers, urged for these legislative changes in a press conference on Tuesday.
One proposed bill would raise the penalty for assaulting a retail worker from a misdemeanor to a bail-eligible Class D felony assault in the second degree, similar to protections currently offered to taxi drivers, utility workers, first responders, and other essential government workers. This measure is sponsored by state Sen. Jessica Scarcella Spanton and state Assemblyman Manny De Los Santos.
Another bill proposes that a shoplifter convicted of a second petit larceny within two years be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class E felony that could be a bailable offense. This measure is sponsored by state Sen. Kevin Thomas and state Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz.
The third measure would create a new crime for selling stolen goods online, a Class A misdemeanor, introduced by state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.
While these proposed laws aim to protect retail workers and deter crime, it remains uncertain whether they will pass in the final weeks of the 2023 legislative session following a contentious debate over bail reform.