Watch CBS News

Drug Store Managers In NYC Say Shoplifting Skyrocketing, Which Is Why More Items Are Under Lock And Key

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Drug stores have been locking up items for years, but if you've been shopping recently you may have noticed more and more products being locked up, including bars of soap, deodorant, and even toothbrushes.

CBS2's Alice Gainer explains why.

It has become a common site at drug stores around New York City -- aisles and aisles of products under lock and key.

"Shampoos, deodorants ... What I'm also seeing is that a lot of stuff is not even on the shelves," said Eurik Perez of Manhattan.

"They have it locked up because sometimes they get boosters that come in there and steal their stuff," another person said.

Boosters are people who steal products to re-sell them.

"Then you notice down the street, there's a whole bunch of ... I don't know if they're stealing it from here or they're stealing it from another place, to sell it here," Perez said.

CBS2 has spoken to several managers at various drug stores around the city. Though none would go on camera, they all told Gainer they've seen an increase in thefts.

The NYPD says as of Sept. 12 there have been 26,385 complaints for shoplifting retail theft in the city, compared to 20,024 over the same time period last year.

The National Retail Federation says most retailers blame the increase on the pandemic, with New York ranking fourth for organized retail crime in the past year.

Many point to changes in sentencing guidelines and the growth of online marketplaces.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea recently tweeted in response to the arrest of man accused of stealing dozens of times from local drug stores.

"Insanity. No other way to describe the resulting crime that has flowed from disastrous bail reform law," he wrote.

The National Association of Shoplifting Prevention's Barbara Staib spoke with CBS2 back in July after several big steals on Long Island.

"Shoplifting steals from all of us. It steals tax dollars. Every piece of merchandise that's stolen is a lost tax dollar," Staib said.

CVS said, in part, "Locking products is a measure of last resort" and that "different products can experience different theft rates, even within the same category, and product protection decisions are data driven based on the individual losses at each store."

And it's not just a New York City issue. San Francisco increased its police department's Retail Crime Unit.

As for New York, some stores have security guards. Employees are told not to engage shoplifters and customers don't blame them.

"You're not paid to be a cop. You can only do as much as you can," one person said.

Until something changes, many say allow extra time when shopping to allow for the unlocking of all your items.

CVS would not disclose how much money shoplifting costs the company per year. Walgreens did not get back to CBS2. The NYPD would not comment on any further measures it's taking regarding retail crime.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.