April 18, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces New Initiatives to Crack Down on Organized Retail Theft and Protect Frontline Workers in the FY25 Budget Agreement

Governor Hochul Announces New Initiatives to Crack Down on Organized Retail Theft and Protect Frontline Workers in the FY25 Budget Agreement

Budget Agreement Includes $40.2 Million for Dedicated Retail Theft Teams for New York State Police and Local Law Enforcement

New Felony Penalties Will Be Created for Assaulting a Retail Worker

Business Owners Will Have Access to $5 Million Tax Credit for Security Cameras and Other Anti-Theft Expenses

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced new initiatives to crack down on organized retail theft and protect frontline retail workers that are included in the FY25 State Budget agreement. This comprehensive approach puts more power in the hands of law enforcement, prosecutors and business owners – targeting every area of vulnerability. Governor Hochul’s announcement came on the heels of an agreement on the FY25 State Budget, which makes historic investments in public safety and builds on three years of progress driving down crime statewide.

“I promised to fight the scourge of organized retail theft -- and in this budget, we got it done,” Governor Hochul said. “Sophisticated organized retail theft operations are putting frontline retail workers at risk and reselling stolen goods on online marketplaces, and we're taking new steps to end this chaos.”

Governor Hochul's focus on organized retail theft comes as crime data shows a significant spike in these crimes over the past six years. Larceny offenses in New York City have spiked by 51 percent between 2017 and 2023. Robberies, grand larceny and petit larceny in New York City are up by 86 percent during that same time period.

The FY25 State Budget includes Governor Hochul’s five-point plan to fight organized retail theft:

  • Bolstering criminal penalties for anyone who assaults a retail worker by elevating it from a misdemeanor to felony. Any person who causes physical injury to a retail worker performing their job will be subject to this new felony.
  • Allowing prosecutors to combine the value of stolen goods when they file larceny charges. The Budget allows retail goods from different stores to be aggregated for the purposes of reaching a higher larceny threshold when stolen under the same criminal scheme.
  • Making it illegal to foster the sale of stolen goods to go after third-party sellers. A person will be found guilty if they use any website or physical location to sell stolen goods.
  • $40.2 million for dedicated Retail Theft Teams within State Police, District Attorneys’ offices and local law enforcement, including 100 New York State Police personnel dedicated to fighting organized retail theft.
  • $5 million tax credit to help small businesses invest in added security measures such as cameras. To help alleviate the burden on small businesses for additional security measures, the Budget creates a $3,000 tax credit for any small businesses who spends the threshold amount of money on retail theft prevention measures.

Governor Hochul’s commitment to fighting retail theft in the FY25 Budget builds on core strategies that have driven violent crime to historic lows. As a result of programs like the Gun Involved Violence Initiative (GIVE), which provides funding to local law enforcement in 21 counties outside of New York City, gun crimes have seen dramatic drops. Last quarter, GIVE regions had the lowest number of shootings on record, and New York City had the lowest number of shootings in any quarter since the pandemic. Since 2021, murders statewide are down 30 percent.

New York State Police Superintendent Steven G. James said, “We will continue to leverage our law enforcement partnerships to further ongoing efforts to prevent thieves from targeting the hard-working citizens of New York. The State Police is fully engaged on this issue and will not tolerate individuals responsible for stealing millions of dollars in merchandise, victimizing both retailers and the public. I thank Governor Hochul for her continued support, and the New York State Police stands ready to commit the resources necessary to ensure the success of this initiative.”

State Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton said, “I advocated for this measure to raise the penalty of assaulting a retail worker to a felony because I understand just how important it is to protect New Yorkers from violent crimes. This provision in the budget reaffirms our dedication as legislators to protecting our small businesses and their workers across New York, who are just trying to make ends meet. I'm happy to have collaborated with Governor Hochul to ensure this measure’s inclusion in this budget.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, “Shoplifting and organized retail theft have plagued countless small businesses in my district and across New York City. While penalties previously existed for possessing stolen goods, until now there was no specific law that targeted fencing through reselling stolen items online. With the inclusion of our bill (S1644) to establish a criminal offense for fostering the sale of stolen goods, we’ve given our district attorneys an important tool to tackle this growing problem. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Manhattan District Attorney Bragg and Assembly Sponsor Rosenthal for their support of this important legislation.”

Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos said, "I commend Governor Hochul for being a steadfast champion on the pervasive issue of retail theft and ensuring we protect our retail workers and the communities they serve through strong policy in the adopted budget. I took on the issue of retail theft after hearing from my local supermarkets and bodegas about their daily fight against this issue and their pleas for protection. Together, we created a proposal with practical steps to support businesses in this fight, and I feel confident these policies will have a major impact for employees and small businesses across New York City and the State."

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, "New York City has made remarkable progress combatting violence in our communities, and I commend Governor Hochul and the Legislature for their leadership to stop retail theft and protect retail employees in this year’s State Budget. This legislation marks an important step in our ongoing efforts to ensure safety and security for New Yorkers and the inclusion of funding to build on successful anti-theft programs, including our trespass affidavit program to stop repeat offenders, signals a robust commitment to tackling shoplifting head-on. Working together, we are making a clear statement: our communities and the hardworking individuals who serve them deserve to operate in environments free from lawlessness and fear."

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said, “We must do everything in our power to fight back against retail theft to support local businesses, their workers and shoppers. Thank you to Governor Hochul for giving us additional tools to help us combat shoplifting including increased penalties for the crime of assaulting a retail worker. Our communities thrive when local businesses thrive and we will continue to work towards creating a secure environment for merchants and residents alike.”

Retail Council of New York State President and CEO Melissa O’Connor said, “The retail industry strongly supports each budget provision related to organized retail crime and habitual retail theft in New York State, as we have prioritized many of these initiatives for years. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for listening to the challenges facing stores and employees, and leading us to a point where we will soon have new laws to effectively prevent this illegal activity. Our work on store and community safety will not stop upon enactment of this year’s state budget. We will continue to engage with all stakeholders to ensure a safe shopping environment for all New Yorkers.”

The Business Council of New York State Inc. Executive Vice President Paul Zuber said, “Retail theft has become a major concern for businesses across the state, particularly small businesses with exposed inventory, which is leaving them susceptible to such crimes. We thank the Governor for prioritizing these increased safety measures and for protecting those who provide jobs and contribute to the state and local economies.”

The Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathy Wylde said, “Governor Hochul has appropriately zeroed in on stopping rampant retail theft, one of the most visible and unsettling public safety issues in cities across America. Her actions will deter both theft and injury to retail workers, which is important to restoring public confidence in the rule of law.”

CAPS Founder Nelson Eusabio said, "We commend Governor Kathy Hochul for not just taking on retail theft, but for delivering for our stores, workers and customers. This state budget is a real win, and it addresses the issue of retail theft head on. Retail workers, who were deemed essential during the pandemic needed help, and we are happy that Governor Hochul and the state legislature have delivered for them."

Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said, "I am pleased that Governor Hochul and the legislature have finally equipped DA’s across the state with the rules and tools necessary to keep New Yorkers safe from retail crime. New Yorkers are tired of basic items being held under lock and key because of the threat of retail theft, and small business owners and their staff across the city have quite simply had enough of repeat offenders who steal their inventory seemingly without consequence and assault them without any increased protection under the law. It has long been clear that more must be done to restore public safety and peace of mind to our state's shoppers, employees, and retailers. The allocation of millions of dollars to District Attorney's offices to establish dedicated Retail Crime Prevention Units, strengthening criminal penalties for those who assault retail workers and assisting small business owners with upgrading their store's security systems are meaningful changes that will pay dividends. While we continue to ask the legislature to make further changes to our laws to allow us to hold recidivist thieves more accountable, today's news is welcome by all New Yorkers concerned with public safety and their quality of life."

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640


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