Shoppers along New York City’s Madison Avenue will have to plan their visits to the high-end glass and metal retail palaces a little more carefully now, since many stores have moved to ‘by appointment only’ amid coordinated daytime shoplifting sprees along the storied glamorous boulevard.
In addition to not having regular trading hours, the retailers have dimmed their lights, dead-bolted doors and placed security guards outside to deter would-be thieves during daytime hours. Even the swankiest of shops have not been spared the shocking rise in retail theft, despite NYPD patrol cars parked on the street.
The Carolina Herrera boutique near 67th Street has been robbed so many times it now pretends to be shuttered, with lights dimmed and door dead-bolted shut, even during normal business hours. ‘It looks closed,’ lamented one bride-to-be, hoping to drop six figures on three Herrera dresses for the walk down the aisle and post-ceremony receptions. She noted it’s a ‘bad look’ for one of the world’s most celebrated luxury shopping districts.
The thieves target accessories, particularly handbags, as they are easier to steal. Herrera sells a leather handbag dotted with Murano glass from Italy for $4,500.
— New York Post (@nypost) May 1, 2022
Sales associates and store managers say they don’t feel safe and have little power in stopping theft in action as they are afraid the thieves will retaliate with violence. In one recent incident at the Herrera store a ‘normal-looking man in his 40s’ made off with ‘four or five’ bags from Venezuelan American fashion maker and NYC resident Herrera. [Sales associate] Singh tried to stop the hoodlum from walking out with the stash but was encouraged by colleagues to let him unlock the door and leave for fear he might turn violent.
Stores off Madison Avenue have also locked their doors during daytime hours. Chanel on 64th Street and Prada on 70th Street are locked during normal business hours and rely on security guards to assess potential shoppers peering through the door to determine whether they can be allowed inside.
The most brazen attack occurred in February at a consignment shop where a team of seven thieves made off with almost $500,000 worth of bags and jewelry in the daytime heist.
Much of the blame for the increase in theft sits at the feet of soft-on-crime officials who won’t prosecute shoplifting as they had in years past. Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, claims that the recent shoplifters are cogs in a greater crime syndicate and are just the tip of the iceberg. Bauer, along with other retail owners, demand action from New York Governor Kathy Hochul as the theft and crime sprees are not only affecting their bottom line, but the Big Apple’s reputation as a destination for luxury shopping.
The statistics are staggering. The 19th Precinct, which includes much the Upper East Side of Madison Ave, reports a dramatic 47 percent rise in grand larceny year, with 470 incidents so far in 2022, up from 320 incidents at the same time last year. Petty larceny has also skyrocketed, up nearly 60 percent from 709 incidents in 2021 to 1,129 in 2022.
And it’s not just glitzy Madison Avenue that is experiencing the brunt of this brazen daytime theft. Across NYC both grand larceny and petty larceny are up, 54 percent and 42 percent. In the past year shoplifting complaints across the five boroughs have increased 81 percent according to the NYPD.