Sunday, September 2, 2018

NYPD Calls UWS Duane Reade Stores Crime Magnets; Asks Residents To Demand Better Security Investment By Corporate Owners

Originally published April 25, 2018 in West Side Rag

By Joy Bergmann

Capt. Timothy Malin, the 20th Precinct’s new commanding officer, is taking aim at Duane Reade for what he considers a lax attitude to crime prevention.

By not investing in private security guards for the precinct’s eight stores, he says, the company is drawing in repeat offenders from other neighborhoods who use these locations as their “personal shopping malls” and may commit other crimes of opportunity while visiting the Upper West Side.

“The vast majority of the larcenies (thefts) are coming from one place: Duane Reade,” he told residents at Monday evening’s monthly Community Council meeting.

So far in 2018 there have been 180 reported larcenies from area Duane Reade stores, up 35% over last year. Duane Reade makes up 42% of the precinct’s total reported petit larcenies (stolen goods under $1000); multiple grand larcenies have also been reported. NYPD has made 76 larceny arrests in the stores this year; 97% of those arrested live outside of the precinct.

During his PowerPoint presentation, Capt. Malin highlighted the rap sheets of five recidivist arrestees as exemplars of his larger concern. Career criminals – sex offenders, gang members, robbers with upwards of 78 arrests – are traveling to the UWS to hit unguarded Duane Reades and perhaps swipe laptops and handbags elsewhere while they’re here, he says.

“They have security guards in other parts of the city like northern Manhattan and the Bronx. We’ve asked them twice for the exact same thing for the Upper West Side but we haven’t made any progress.”

Capt. Timothy Malin
Capt. Malin said he met with Walgreens [Duane Reade’s owners] corporate security managers last week, noting that the precinct’s previous commander held a similar meeting back in January. He found the reps to be sympathetic, but not racing to ameliorate the situation. “They approach store security from a strict dollars and cents point of view,” he said. “They told me they expect to lose $7 million of merchandise in Manhattan every year, and they just write it off. They expect one in three lipsticks to be stolen. They call 911 to file a police report so as to make an insurance claim.”

Walgreens did not respond to requests for comment.

Money matters to Walgreens, Malin says, but it should also matter to area residents.

“Taxpayer dollars right now are essentially subsidizing private security at Duane Reade,” he said. To attempt to stem the wave of thefts, 20th Precinct officers have made over 822 “directed patrols” at area stores wherein uniformed cops stop by and walk the aisles. Those are “822 times this year when our officers could have been engaged with something else, a different quality of life issue our residents may have.”

Capt. Malin urged residents to contact Walgreens and demand that the company take action. “We want the same preventative measures that the Bronx and other parts of Manhattan are getting…visible, well-run security in their UWS stores,” he said. “They can’t just be reactive. They need to be proactive for the safety of the community.”

This story was later picked up by the Wall Street Journal, New York Post and NBC New York.