A wave of shoplifting across New York City has left drug store shelves empty and customers unable to purchase basic necessities.
Everyday items such as toothpaste, face wash and hand sanitizer are either low in stock or unavailable in many shops after thieves have cleared them out.
“It looks like the Third World,” a Manhattan resident told the New York Post, after seeing the aisles of a CVS pharmacy with next-to-nothing left.
“They’ve all been stolen,” explained a CVS employee.
NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea blamed the shoplifting trend on last year’s state bail reform laws, which eliminated cash bail and pretrial detention for many non-violent crimes
“Insanity,” Mr Shea tweeted last week in response to a New York Post report that one serial shoplifter had been arrested 46 times for retail theft this year. “No other way to describe the resulting crime that has flowed from disastrous bail reform law.”
There are reportedly 77 other thieves at large in New York with records of 20 or more shoplifting charges, according to sources at the NYPD.
As of 12 September, the city had 26,385 complaints of retail theft, which was the most recorded since 1995 and is a 32 percent increase from last year.
TheWall Street Journal reported last month that there has been an organised crime spree of retail theft worth $45 billion, with the stolen items often being resold on Amazon and elsewhere.
“Reported thefts (at CVS) have ballooned 30% since the pandemic began,” the report said.