Thanks to a tsunami in shoplifting across the city, naked necessities are now rare luxury items on shelves in pharmacies in New York City.
“It looks like the third world,” lamented a Manhattan resident, after seeing the course of his eyes on a CVS on Sixth Avenue in Soho desperately low with toothpaste, face wash and rubbing alcohol among a host of other things.
“They have all been stolen,” a CVS employee told The Post.
State bail reform laws make shoplifting a promising career opportunity for some New York City crooks. A man, Isaac Rodriguez, 22, of Queens, was arrested for shoplifting alone 46 times this year, The Post reported last week alone.
The blame goes directly to the halls of power in Albany, New York City chief executive Dermot Shea said.
“Insane,” the police commissioner tweeted last week in response to The Post report. “No other way to describe the resulting crime arising from disastrous bail reform law.”
Serial shoplifters, even if arrested, typically go free the same day. Cases against them are often not prosecuted. Pharmaceutical stores, filled with hallways with small necessities, offer a goldmine that is easy to harvest for thieves.
Rodriguez reportedly stole from Walgreen stores 37 times and lifted everything from protein drinks to soap, baby formula and body lotion, often simply by filling a bag up with goods and then walking out the front door without paying.
There are 77 other thieves right now walking the streets of New York with rap parks of 20 or more theft charges, NYPD sources say.
On September 12, the city saw 26,385 complaints of retail theft – the most recorded ever (dating back to 1995). That is an increase of 32 percent from last year (20,024) and a 38 percent increase from 2014 (19,166).
Mail reporters visited a dozen CVS, Duane Reade / Walgreens and Rite Aid stores around town and found the same shocking situation in all of them.
Large shards of barren shelves, in some cases frighteningly empty for almost every conceivable need: cereals, batteries, sinks, diapers, stationery and baby formula.
Good luck finding tampons. Each Post visit revealed almost no one on the shelves. Demonstrations of relative luxury, such as lipstick and shoe polish, also looked neglected.
Only 12 of 57 stationery items listed on price displays at a CVS on 50th Avenue in Long Island City were in stock. About 8 out of 10 laundry detergents were missing on the shelves of a Rite Aid on Broadway in Astoria; like all 27 varieties of Safe Nutrition Drinks and all 15 types of Irish Spring Soap and Body Wash.
Two officers stood sentinel inside the doors of Duane Reade on the corner of Avenue B and East Second Street on the Lower East Side this week.
“There’s a lot of theft here,” said one of the officers, adding that they have done guard duty in the store as part of their neighborhood patrol effort.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that retailers are the target of a $ 45 billion organized crime theft, with lifted goods often resold on Amazon.
“Reported thefts (at CVS) have ballooned 30% since the pandemic began,” the WSJ report states.
Disruptions in global supply chains have given rise to a shortage of pharmacies and other retailers across the country.
“The supply of product supply is currently affecting most of the retail industry,” CVS spokesman Matthew Blanchette told The Post. “We continue to work with our suppliers to address this issue, and we apologize for any inconvenience our customers may experience.”
Retailers here in New York and around the country, meanwhile, are struggling to find people to re-store the shelves; while trucking companies report difficulties in finding drivers to make much-needed deliveries.