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Increased Cases Of Shoplifting In New York City Prompt Catsimatidis-Owned Businesses To Hire More Security

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A couple of Rite Aid stores in Manhattan are closing following an uptick in shoplifting.

Rather than following suit, another store chain says it's doing something else to deal with the problem, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Thursday.

Though the 30 Gristedes and D'Agostino supermarkets in New York City have seen a significant increase in shoplifting, chairman and CEO John Catsimatidis says he won't close any. He's just upping security.

"We are hiring more and more security. We hired a lot of retired cops," Catsimatidis said.

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Some businesses have told their employees not to confront shoplifters, but Catsimatidis said he is taking a different approach.

"You want to stay in business? You want to keep the store open? Do what you have to do," Catsimatidis said.

Just last month, Chris Paliophilos, the store manager on 40th Street and Second Avenue in Murray Hill, said he went up to a guy stealing more than 70 pints of ice cream.

"I fought with the guy. I grabbed the bag. The handle broke and he realized he can't win so he ran off," Paliophilos said.

He has been with the company for more than 40 years. He says in the past would-be thieves felt threatened by a call to police.

"Now? Call the police. I don't care. What they gonna do to me? So that's why they leave, they come back, they leave, they come back," Paliophilos said.

READ MORENYPD Reports Shoplifting Levels Not Seen In Nearly 30 Years As Organized Retail Crime Ramps Up Nationwide

There has been an outcry for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to do something. On Wednesday, he addressed the issue with the Association for a Better New York, saying he's working with his newly formed small business alliance to brainstorm solutions regarding repeat offenders.

"So if someone is taking $200 from four stores and sort of going along, for lack of a better word, their route, being able to aggregate that conduct so they can be charged at a higher level is something that we've been talking to retailers about. You know, the charge then being more significant," Bragg said.

NYPD data shows citywide retail theft complaints that include petit larcenies, grand larcenies, and robberies that initially began as shoplifting were up more than 11,000 in 2021 from 2020 and nearly 6,000 from 2019.

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District manager Kevin Jordan says meat remains one of the top stolen items, along with Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

"Those are the hot ones, Dove soap, Tide," Jordan said.

He said thieves have also been swiping things like olive oil, basically anything that's considered more expensive, Gainer reported.

Workers say they are opting not to lock up items like you see drug stores doing; instead, placing cosmetics and Tylenol behind the counter.

They said they're also putting less products, like meat, out on display.

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