Governor Slammed for Rejecting Plan to Combat Massive Retail Theft

( – Retail theft has become a significant problem nationwide. In New York, the problem will cost retailers $4.4 billion in 2022,, according to recent reports. Store owners have clamored for relief from Gov. Kathy Hochul, asking for legislation and a task force to help deal with the massive problem. Yet, the governor recently vetoed legislation that would have authorized the formation of a 15-member retail theft panel to combat the losses and the rise of organized theft throughout the state. Now, she’s facing criticism for her decision.

The panel was one of a group of commissions and panels included in the measure Hochul vetoed. In total, the measure would have cost the state around $35 million. However, the state hadn’t budgeted for the expense and didn’t have the funds available to support the panels, according to a spokesperson for the governor’s office.

The issue and the veto have left lawmakers and retailers frustrated and angry. State Sen. Joseph Griffo (R) expressed his disappointment with the governor’s decision but vowed to continue pushing for solutions, according to The Center Square. Griffo told the outlet, “Organized retail crime continues to be a major problem for businesses across the state.” He said the proposed bipartisan measure would have generated solutions to help relieve retailers’ burdens.

New York State Retail Council CEO and President Melissa O’Connor described her group’s reactions as “extremely disappointed.” Following the veto, O’Connor issued a statement expressing how critical finding solutions to the theft problem has become.

O’Connor said she had reached out to Hochul to discuss the urgent “need for immediate action and an effective, collaborative response.” She said the governor told her theft deterrence was an administration priority. In reply, O’Connor said her organization anxiously looks forward to working with the governor to make progress on the issues.

According to a press release by the Council on Criminal Justice, retail theft in New York City increased by 64% last year. Retailers reported 28,316 instances of shoplifting in just the first six months of 2023 in New York City, accounting for 46% of the shoplifting incidents nationwide during that period.

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