Biz owners rip NY Assembly Speaker Heastie over refusal to beef sentences for criminals

NEWS: Biz owners rip NY Assembly Speaker Heastie over refusal to beef sentences for criminals

Furious Big Apple business owners are tearing state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to shreds over his refusal to beef up penalties for violent shoplifters, with some raging, “It’s open season on retail workers.”

Heastie (D-Bronx) sparked widespread outrage last week when he shut down Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to toughen sentences for the criminals, bizarrely declaring, “I just don’t believe raising penalties is ever a deterrent on crime.”

“How do you deter crime except by penalty?” said an enraged Nelson Eusebio, who heads the National Supermarket Association and Coalition to Save our Supermarkets, to The Post on Monday.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has come under fire from New York City business owners for refusing to support a law to increase penalties for violent shoplifters. AP Photo/Hans Pennink

“Our workers are on the front line dealing with shoplifters and criminals,” Eusebio said. “It’s open season on retail workers in the city.”

An employee at a CVS on the Upper East Side — where a hammer-wielding shoplifter smashed a 37-year-old worker’s hand and several of the store’s windows in November in a fit when his crime was foiled — told The Post on Monday, “What can you do?

“Nobody wants to deal with it,” the employee said of the criminal violence, which has led the store “to lock up even the low-price products because of the quantity” of what’s taken during rampages.

“They’re not taking one or two [items], they’re taking the whole shelf,” the worker said.

The Lexington Avenue store is now closing in May, although a rep for the chain did not mention the violent theft or other shoplifting as the reason, according to the local Patch outlet.

A worker boarding up windows at a Manhattan CVS where a shoplifter attacked an employee with a hammer. Christopher Sadowski

But the employee told The Post that workers their dark joke, “Now the items get locked up, and the people don’t.”

Eusebio, who reps 600 supermarkets in Gotham and beyond, estimated that assaults on his members alone had surged 20% this year based on the complaints he has received.

Citywide retail thefts are up overall more than 6.5% — or to 14,910 — so far this year, compared to the same time frame in 2023, when 13,987 incidents were recorded, the latest NYPD crime stats show.

Heastie said he doesn’t believe raising penalties will deter potential shoplifters. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Hochul, in her budget, called for a crackdown on the explosion of retail thefts, which she estimated is costing Empire State retailers $4.4 billion a year. She also said she wants to jack up the penalties for those perps who go after store employees.

But Heastie, whose position as head of the assembly is especially powerful, refused to back the plan.

“I don’t want to make it sound like we’re not concerned about stemming what’s happened to retail workers. We care very deeply about that. We just have other ideas of how to get there,” he claimed last Tuesday after saying Albany lawmakers shouldn’t be weighing in on criminal sentencing as they negotiate the Empire State’s massive budget.

Hochul called for a crackdown on shoplifting in her budget proposal. Obtained by NY Post

“If you just keep dealing with the penalties, what happens after people get arrested? You’re still only worrying about what happens after something has already happened,” Heastie said.

Even ex-Gov. David Paterson said he was shocked by the speaker’s position.

“It’s like a revolving door — there’s no opportunity for any type of rehabilitation, there’s no opportunity for contrition with the parole board” without harsher penalties, Paterson said Sunday on 770 WABC’s “The Cats Roundtable.”

“[Heastie] is a very good friend of mine, a very decent person. I’d like to have this conversation with him one-to-one,” the ex-gov added.

Heastie did say he is still open to parts of Hochul’s plan, specifically cutting off organized theft rings.

Retailers and authorities have told The Post that such rings are creating a major underground economy as they work through online resale sites such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace to peddle their illicit wares.

“It’s better off to commit a crime than get a job in New York,” said Francisco Marte, president of New York’s Bodega and Small Business Association, to The Post on Monday.

Organized shoplifting groups have cost New Yorkers billions of dollars a year, according to a Post report. rfaraino

Marte, whose family alone owns 20 bodegas across the city, said he is “disappointed but not surprised” by Heastie’s remarks.

Some pols “like to put at risk the lives of the business community and the working-class people,” Marte said.

Salvatore Lopiccolo knows this all too well.

Lopiccolo was working as a security guard at a Walgreens at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in May 2023 when an alleged shoplifter was caught on video clobbering him — then ended up in the wind after skipping a court date.

“Didn’t I predict this exact scenario?” Lopiccolo quipped at the time.

New Yorkers also would be hard-pressed to forget former Harlem bodega clerk Jose Alba, who fatally stabbed a violent customer in self-defense and ended up charged in the berserk man’s death.

The charges against Alba were eventually dropped after widespread outcry.

Heastie did not immediately respond to a Post request for comment Monday.

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