ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say more than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen from retailers every year and only one in 48 shoplifters are caught. Our Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige spoke with experts about proposed legislation to strengthen anti-theft laws and protect retail workers here in New York. 

“Because we just feel like we have been abandoned. Cops cannot do anything to arrest these people then… what else can we do?” asked Zori Estevez, a head cashier at City Fresh in Brooklyn. She said as much as she enjoys working with her colleagues, her job has put her in some scary scenarios. “People go in to steal, but they’re willing to do whatever they need to do in order to leave with the merchandise, so sometimes we get shoved, we’ve had instances where knives are pulled out, we’ve even had people with guns… so it’s just like, we’re just trying to make a living,” said Estevez.

Which is why Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton is sponsoring a bill that would make the assault of a retail worker a Class D felony of assault in the second degree. “We deemed them as essential during the pandemic, and it’s time that we treat them as such,” she said. Furthermore, the senator said the penalties aren’t strong enough. “So people think they can get away with it, it’s a slap on the wrist when they do this and frankly it’s a slap on the wrist when somebody assaults a retail worker right now as well,” said Scarcella-Spanton.

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowtiz is also sponsoring legislation that would raise the penalties for repeat offenders which he says is common in shoplifting. “So if you’re caught, convicted a second time. You’re gonna face a tougher penalty and that’s really very important because we believe, we hope that that will be an inducement for people not to do this. There’s also a third bill that would criminalize those who sell stolen goods on platforms like Facebook marketplace, Instagram or Amazon.