New York City has had nearly 22,000 reported shoplifting incidents since the beginning of the year, up five percent from the same period in 2023.

National chains such as Target, CVS, and Walgreens are continuing to shutter locations being impacted by the rampant theft as the city has logged 21,578 complaints from January 1 to May 12, the New York Post reported.

“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” Target said in a September 2023 announcement of the closure of a Harlem location, among several others around the country.

Retired NYPD sergeant Joseph Giacalone — who is now a criminal investigation adjunct professor — believes that a significant part of the problem is politicians shrugging off the issue. 

“Our politicians have told us, ‘Shoplifting is not a problem,’” he told the Post. “And then all of a sudden, we start seeing all these issues that are happening because many of these crimes have been downgraded by the politicians themselves . . . Eventually you gotta pay the piper.”

Once a New York City staple, Duane Reade — a popular convenience store owned by Walgreens — closed 90 locations in the city between 2019 and 2022. 

While the parent company did not confirm at the time that the cause was shoplifting, residents raised concerns about theft playing a role in the shutdown at an NYPD community council meeting, Our Town reported.

Five former CVS locations in Manhattan are on the market, real estate broker Joanne Podell told the Post

Walgreens has also listed 17 former Manhattan stores for sale.

Walgreens Pharmacy and store closing sign at entrance, Queens, New York. (Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty)

Three weeks before her local CVS on Broadway shut its doors, resident Maria Kucer said she saw a man “scooping stuff” into a black duffel bag — and it wasn’t her first time seeing him steal from the store. 

“I felt they were stealing from me,” the 61-year-old said. “Inevitably I ended up paying more for items as a result of the thefts and since the cashiers, pharmacists and staff felt like family to me, the thieves made me mad.”