NEW YORK — State Attorney General Letitia James and Mayor Eric Adams struck a blow Thursday at the rampant shoplifting plaguing the city, announcing the indictment of 41 members of a crime ring that stole everything from luxury clothing to cash cards to food stamps.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported, members of the ring reportedly resold the stolen goods on eBay, prompting the mayor to lash out, again, at social media.
Pricey designer dresses, fancy hand bags, perfume, and toiletries are just some of the millions of dollars worth of good reportedly stolen by a brazen crime ring from a long list of New York businesses.
“These items were stolen from stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack, Duane Reade, CVS, and Sefora,” James said.
According to the indictment, the people who stole the goods would bring them to a pawn shop on 47th Street, where the alleged ring leader would pay them 6-8 percent of the retail value of the clothing.
Officials identified the alleged boss of the crime ring as Roni Rubinov, the pawn shop owner, saying they confiscated nearly $4 million worth of stolen goods from a warehouse he used while hawking the items on eBay.
“The most offensive and egregious is that Rubinov also purchased EBT benefits or food stamps, and then use those benefits to buy groceries for himself and his family,” James said.
“This was greed, greed that attempted to exploit New Yorkers,” Adams added.
Shoplifting problems, which seem to have become more rampant during the pandemic, have made it more difficult for New York City to recover economically, officials say.
“We have seen dozens of stores close. We have lost thousands of jobs because of this activity. Workers in these stores have been terrorized,” said Kathryn Wylde of the Partnership for New York City.
Adams, who in recent days has attacked social media for turning a blind eye to criminal activity, including gun sales and gun violence, again blamed social media for allowing the shoplifters to hawk their goods on their sites.
“We have completely ignored that people are using social media for criminal activity,” Adams said. “This industry is moving at a pace that’s faster than what law enforcement is able to keep up with the bad guys, everything from selling gun parts online to selling stolen goods online. The industry must align itself with public safety.”
The 41 people charged in the indictment could face up to 25 years in jail.
Officials said the the case should serve as a warning to other shoplifters that the city is serious about mounting a widespread crackdown.