Governor Hochul Pledges Action Against Shoplifting Surge

( – New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who in November vetoed a bill to create a task force to address retail theft, on Tuesday asked the New York State Police to establish a task force to target retail theft, the Times-Union reported.

According to a State Police source familiar with the matter, the governor’s retail theft task force would be similar to the law enforcement task forces that crack down on gang activity and illegal gun trafficking.

The governor, who outlined the task force plan in her January 8 State of the State address, just two months ago vetoed 32 bills that would have required “intensive studies and reports” by state authorities, arguing that the task forces and commissions needed would have cost the state around $35 million and would lead to “duplication and unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Included in the bills Hochul vetoed was legislation to create a task force to study organized retail theft. The 15-member task force would have been appointed by the governor, the attorney general, and the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate. The purpose of the panel was to compile data on retail crime and develop recommendations to respond to the problem.

Hochul hinted at a possible law enforcement task force to tackle retail theft in a November 9 address to the New York State Sheriff’s Association. She said her administration was focused on “the rise in retail theft” and said she would announce an initiative in her State of the State address.

New York retailers say that their industry lost about $4.4 billion to organized retail theft in 2022.

In a September survey, the National Retail Federation found that retailers nationwide reported losses of $112 billion in 2022, with over two-thirds of retailers saying organized retail theft had increased violence and aggression at stores.

New York retail and trade associations that have urged for increased help from Albany have linked the financial losses from organized retail theft to both safety concerns and quality of life issues.

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