New York City's Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has created a small business alliance in an attempt to tackle shoplifting and business thefts amid a spate of high-profile, caught-on-camera robberies and criticism over his policies.
Bragg was expected to meet with leadership from Partnership for New York City this week, as previously reported by FOX Business, just days after the district attorney’s office announced the launch of the Manhattan Small Business Alliance.
The alliance was formed in an effort "to reduce shoplifting and commercial robberies in partnership with small business leaders in every neighborhood of Manhattan," Bragg’s office said in a press release last week.
Members include law enforcement personnel, local business owners, community leaders and district attorney’s office staff. Bragg said in a prepared statement that the alliance would "rely on data to target our efforts" and would "listen to the voices of small business owners."
The announcement comes as organized retail theft and business robberies have made headlines across the country, including in Manhattan.
Several videos have surfaced in recent days showing people stealing bag-loads of items from Manhattan pharmacies.
In one instance, actor and comedian Michael Rapaport was retrieving a prescription from inside an Upper East Side Rite-Aid, when he watched as a man stole two bags of items, he said in an Instagram post and during an episode of his podcast, "I am Rapaport."
"This f------ guy just filled his two bags up with everything in Rite Aid, right here on 80th [Street] and First Avenue is walking down the street like s--- is Gucci," Rapaport said on social media, according to the New York Post. "I was watching him the whole time."
He also shared video that showed the alleged shoplifter walking out of the store with his stolen goods as a security guard watches.
The New York Police Department's citywide statistics show petit larceny – or the theft of property valued up to $1,000 – has increased by 14.5%, or from 4,948 to 5,663, year to date in 2022 compared to 2021.
Meanwhile, FOX Business’ Charles Gasparino reported that the Partnership for New York City’s meeting with Bragg would pertain to protecting retail workers in New York City as the DA begins to feel the pressure from the business community.
Bragg came under fire earlier this year after he released a controversial memo titled "Re: Achieving Fairness and Safety."
The memo called for Manhattan prosecutors to look for alternatives to prison sentences for criminals convicted of several kinds of offenses and "reduce pretrial incarceration," unless for "very serious cases."
It also directed his office not to prosecute offenders accused of the following crimes, barring extenuating circumstances: turnstile jumping, resisting arrest, trespassing and driving without a license, among others.
In a different example, he directed prosecutors to reduce armed robbery cases to petit larcenies, barring certain circumstances.
He later said the memo left "the wrong impression" about his law enforcement policy plans, adding that it "left many New Yorkers justifiably concerned."