Dean Balsamini and Paula Froelich, New York Post, October 10, 2020
Bands of shoplifters are terrorizing Soho’s high-end boutiques, lifting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of designer merchandise, and in some cases, threatening security guards to keep quiet — or be labeled racist, The Post has learned.
The disturbing pattern began in late May during the riots that rocked the city in the wake of the George Floyd police custody death. High-end Celine was looted of $1.5 million in merchandise then, and the blatant thievery continues “every week” in ritzy stores such as Prada, Moncler, Dior and Balenciaga, one plugged-in local said.
“This is happening every week. Walk around Soho on Wooster Street and Greene Street, Mercer Street. … You have huge bouncers out there trying to deter hit-and-run activity,” the source, a restaurateur, said.
But in some cases, the thieves are given carte blanche to steal.
“If they [store personnel] stop them and say anything in the store before they’ve left the building then it often gets turned into a racial accusation,” the source said.
“The brands … tell their employees to walk away,” the insider added. “They don’t want to be the next Instagram video claiming they are a racist brand.”
Soho store managers, especially those employed by national retailers, remain tightlipped for fear of ‘R-word’ reprisal, bad publicity or tarnishing their brand, the source said.
NYPD Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice, founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC, told The Post that investigators are aware that “mobs of young, transient groups” have “bulldozed through aisles grabbing as much as their arms can hold.”
A law enforcement source confirmed that “dozens of larcenies have occurred in recent months in high-end establishments in the neighborhood.” The source said the victimized stores include Adidas, Fendi and Burberry.
The suspects create a stir and grab as much merchandise as they can, confident they’re not going to face resistance or consequences, the same source said, adding “it’s a lucrative business.”