Recall that in late May as George Floyd and Black Lives Matter related protests reached a peak, so did reports of mass theft targeting high end neighborhoods of New York known for luxury boutiques.
In one particular instance the NYPD had over the summer sought looters responsible for stealing $1,511,000 in merchandise from the Celine clothing store. It was similar to other "smash and grab" operations widely reported in SoHo, the East Village and Lower Manhattan throughout the early summer, which sometimes began as brazenly and as simply as someone hurling bricks through store front windows.
But far from a thing of the past, new reporting in the New York Post finds the problem has continued, even now becoming a "weekly" pattern, often with store owners loathe to report the theft for fear they'll be labeled as racists.
But local shop owners and employees are still infuriated by the seeming carte blanch the thieves and looters have apparently been given by the culture of silence. Apparently to stop a thief walking out with a $2,000 jacket can be chalked up to "white privilege" - and the major brands are apparently most fearful of such an instance going viral on Instagram, rather than recovering expensive stolen merchandise.
One unnamed local said stores like Prada, Moncler, Dior and Balenciaga were being hit “every week” - resulting in some hiring bouncers and other mere 'deterrence' measures meant to create enough of a security presence that thieves move on to another store.
But it doesn't seem to be working as according one store source: “If they [store personnel] stop them and say anything in the store before they’ve left the building then it often gets turned into a racial accusation.”
“The brands… tell their employees to walk away,” the individual told the Post. “They don’t want to be the next Instagram video claiming they are a racist brand.”
Police have reported recent instances of entire groups entering stores to initiate a chaotic grabbing frenzy of 'free stuff' which can be described as orchestrated mob action.
The Post cited NYPD Sgt. Joseph Imperatrice as saying “mobs of young, transient groups” have “bulldozed through aisles grabbing as much as their arms can hold.”
Here are some recent examples cited in the Post report:
In the latest incident, thieves twice plundered Moncler on Prince Street — which sells down jackets for nearly $2,000 — on Thursday, Oct. 1, according to the sources.
In the first incident, two individuals grabbed nearly two dozen down jackets, the businessperson told The Post. A few hours later, at 6 p.m., thieves snatched “more than $50,000” in merchandise and sped off in a white Jaguar and a black Audi, the law enforcement source said.
The local restaurateur claimed “16 to 20 people” were involved in the second incident and the heist included a lookout.
In the early summer some of the most aggressive early waves of looting were contained by nightly curfews imposed by police related to growing protest mayhem.
Scenes that played out in early summer:
Looters in SoHo are pulling up in expensive cars (which they own) and looting the whole place. This is not class warfare. This is anarchy. pic.twitter.com/5f6ageaQNk— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 2, 2020
The looting in SoHo Is quite an elaborate scheme. it’s a complicated web of cars with out-of-state plates, the use of @Revel scooters, @CitiBikeNYC’s and @Uber’s to get away. But most that i’ve observed have been waking away with the goods in hand past cops. pic.twitter.com/X1I4r1cHQo— 𝐌𝐲𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐍. 𝐌𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐫 (@MylesMill) June 1, 2020
But at this point so long as the big luxury brands in ritzy boutique-lined neighborhoods are paralyzed with fear over the racially charged negative flak, the thieves look ready to take advantage.