Amid complaints of rising shoplifting, D.A. Alvin Bragg is convening a new small business task force in an effort to tackle the trend.
NEW YORK — Heeding complaints about shoplifting and burglaries plaguing Manhattan’s small businesses, District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Thursday that he had formed a new task force to come up with solutions to the trend.
The borough’s top prosecutor announced the formation of the “Manhattan Small Business Alliance,” composed of small business leaders from across the borough, a handful of social service providers and some staffers from the D.A.’s office.
It comes amid complaints of brazen thefts targeting local retailers, including a recent shoplifting incident at an Upper East Side Rite Aid filmed by comedian Michael Rapaport.
Reports of petit larceny — the most common charge for shoplifting — have indeed risen by about 26 percent in Manhattan during the first weeks of 2022 compared to the same time last year, according to NYPD data. Through the end of last year, citywide reports of petit larceny stood at more than 85,000 — an increase from 2020, but a slight drop from 2019 levels.
Barbara Askins, who leads Harlem’s 125th Street Business Improvement District, told Patch last fall that a rise in shoplifting had contributed to a feeling of danger along the busy commercial corridor.
“We need public safety from the city,” said Askins, who is among the leaders named on Bragg’s new task force.
The group will meet in February, where they will begin analyzing data and drafting recommendations for the D.A.’s office. A final set of recommendations will be issued in May.
“We’re going to rely on data to target our efforts and we will listen to the voices of small business owners from every corner of Manhattan,” Bragg said in a statement.
Bragg has experienced a rocky first few weeks in office, facing intense pushback in some corners for his decisions not to prosecute some lower-level crimes. In a public appearance last week, Bragg acknowledged “confusion,” but largely vowed to push forward with the same policies.
Here’s the full list of Manhattan leaders joining the initiative:
Business and law enforcement:
- Ken Giddon, Owner, Rothmans Men’s Clothing (co-chair)
- Barbara Askins, President and CEO, 125th Street Business Improvement District (co-chair)
- Raymond Tsang, President, Hoy Sun Ning Yung Benevolent Association & President-elect of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (co-chair)
- Anthony White, Area Asset Protection Manager, Victoria’s Secret
- Barbara Blair, President, Garment District Alliance
- Carey King, Director, Uptown Grand Central
- Chauncey Parker, Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships, NYPD
- Don Lee, Board Chair, Homecrest Community Services, Inc.
- Eleazar Bueno, Owner, Empanada Monumental Restaurant
- Fred Cerullo, President & CEO, the Grand Central Partnership
- Isidro Medina, Executive Director, Washington Heights Business Improvement District
- Jay Peltz, Senior Vice President, Food Industry Alliance of NYS
- Mukaram Taheraly, Owner, Mushtari Hardware Store (& Board Chair, 125th Street BID)
- Ricardo Bonilla, Owner, Manhattan Hardware Store
- Roy Richter, former President of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association (the police Union representing Captains, Chiefs and Inspectors)
- Shannon Hoey, Owner, New York Vintage
- William (Bill) Abramson, Principal of Buchbinder & Warren (and co-chair of the Union Square BID)
- Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York
- Joel Copperman, CEO & President,CASES
- Courtney Bryan, Executive Director, Center for Court Innovation
- Kandra Clark, Vice President of Policy and Strategy, Exodus Transitional Community
D.A.’s office employees:
- D.A.’s Office members include:
- District Attorney Alvin Bragg
- Estelle Strykers-Santiago, Director, Community Partnership Unit
- Jordan Stockdale, Chief of Staff
- Joselinne Minaya, Director, Washington Heights Office
- Linda Jones-Janneh, Director, Harlem Office
- Shawn McMahon, Chief, Crime Strategies Unit
- Sherene Crawford, Executive Assistant D.A., Pathways for Public Safety