Mayor Eric Adams is calling on New York City shoppers to remove their face masks when entering stores as a way to clamp down on shoplifters.
“Do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask and then once they’re inside they can continue to wear if they so desire to do so,” Adams said on 1010-WINS of the facial recognition push to especially help combat repeat offenders.
“When you see these mask-wearing people, oftentimes it’s not about being fearful of the pandemic. It’s fearful of the police catching [them] for their deeds,” he said.
Adams’ call for entryway retail unmasking comes days after data released by the New York City Police Department revealed an unexplained 10% decrease in reports of retail theft this February compared to last year.
Officials couldn’t confirm whether NYPD officers made more shoplifting arrests — but the decrease comes amid an unprecedented spike in shoplifting complaints in recent years.
According to Adams, his new no-mask-upon-entry proposal would allow officials to use technology to identify shoplifters after the fact and “those who are committing serious crimes.”
Shoppers who wish to remain masked for health reasons will be able to put their mask back on after lowering it while entering the business, the mayor added.
When asked what the NYPD was doing to help businesses burdened with ensuring customers take off their masks upon entry, Adams said additional officers have been ordered to patrol retail-heavy areas.
“We are beefing up our coverage in those BID [Business Improvement District] areas, those high shopping areas, and we’re also beefing up our surveillance and practices,” Adams said.
“So we have something called ‘paid detail,’ where you have uniformed officers are allowed during their off-duty hours to do some of the security at many of our stores and locations and that has always been successful,” he said, adding he remembered the practice being used at high-end stores when he was a police officer.
Last week, NYPD Chief of Department Jeff Maddrey shared Adams’ sentiment and urged business owners to force shoppers to remove their masks for identification as a “condition of entry.”
“We need our businesses to be proactive and do their due diligence,” the chief said, adding: “We need to make sure people are identifying themselves.”
Merchants in the Big Apple have become so desperate to stop sticky-fingered thieves amid the recent spike in thefts that many have taken matters into their own hands.
In the Bronx, a group of vigilant private security guards has been employed to keep the bustling Fordham Road Business Improvement District crime-free by acting as a deterrent against shoplifters.
Similarly, the 34th Street Partnership — the trade group serving Macy’s Herald Square, Penn Station and Madison Square Garden — has turned to K-9 units to “sniff out” crime.
Adam’s big proposal for local businesses comes after a hazmat suit-wearing gunman shot and killed a deli worker on the Upper East Side during a grisly robbery Saturday. The gunman is believed to have been responsible for three brutal robberies over the last 10 days.
Bernadette Hogan, Isabel Keane