Commercial burglaries soar since coronavirus emergency measures

Commercial burglaries in New York City have risen 75 percent amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to data from the NYPD.

Police said 254 businesses have been targeted between March 12, the day a state of emergency order was issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio, and March 31.

This is up from the 145 burglaries recorded for the same time period last year, NYPD officials said.

“What we are seeing is that criminals are specifically targeting cash businesses, supermarkets and bodegas,” said NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri.

LiPetri noted that the method behind many of the burglaries has changed due to the emergency measures put in place to halt COVID-19’s spread, which forced many businesses to shut their doors.

“The opportunities are in a different place. There’s a lot less happening during the day, for example a lot less trucks are getting robbed. The burglaries we are seeing now are more organized and specifically targeted. There’s much more night-time entry, more forced entry, individuals breaking locks to get into businesses while they are closed,” LiPetri said.

The contentious bail reform law, which passed on Jan 1, only exacerbates the problem, LiPetri said.

“We’ve really struggled with the new bail reform. It’s been of the utmost concern before the COVID-19 and even more so after,” he said, adding that when an individual is charged with burglary, they are released on their own recognizance unless they had a prior felony on their record or there was an “aggravating factor” in the crime.

“We are still making phenomenal arrests, but I’ve seen multiple individuals who have been arrested for burglary this year and then released the next day. And now, they are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation and targeting stores that have to be closed because of the executive order,” he said.

“There are police out there making the arrests, both when it’s happening and after the fact with detectives investigating the crimes. But the individuals committing these crimes are put right back out on the street.”

There is also concern within the police department that the planned release of inmates from Rikers Island could cause another uptick in crimes.

“There have definitely been individuals who have been released from Rikers who have gone on to commit a crime,” a high-ranking official told the Post.

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