Downtown Starbucks a 'Disaster' for Property Thefts: 1st Precinct's Top Cop

"If you go to Starbucks along the Broadway corridor, watch your property," said the First Precinct's commanding officer, Capt. Mark Iocco. A purse on the floor, a bag on a chair, as was seen in this Starbucks at 38 Park Row, can be an invitation to a thief, he said. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Feb. 10, 2016

There was the 28-year-old woman from Brooklyn whose attention wandered from her bag as she searched for her phone. The Upper West Sider, 43, who put her bag on the floor next to her stool. The French tourist, 21, whose bag was next to her as she sipped coffee and talked on her phone.

These women were among a half-dozen victims who shared the same sinking feeling at a Lower Manhattan Starbucks last month: The discovery that valuable items had suddenly gone missing from their handbags.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” Capt. Mark Iocco, commanding officer of the First Precinct, said of the January grand larcenies at the coffee chain in Lower Manhattan.

Speaking last week at the monthly meeting of the First Precinct Community Council, Iocco said there had been six such grand larcenies at Starbucks stores in January, most in the area of lower Broadway. All but one, in Soho, were on or below Chambers Street. Thefts from unattended bags in bars and restaurants are among the most common crimes in Lower Manhattan, but First Precinct crime reports show an unusual spike at the coffee chain.

“Starbucks on the lower Broadway corridor is a disaster right now,” Iocco said, adding that surveillance video in the stores has been no help in catching the thieves. “We don’t have any video facing the area where the people drink their coffee and go on their computers and play on their electronics.”

George Liropoulos, the precinct’s crime prevention officer, said he has surveyed the video at all the stores. “The only cameras are on their registers, their safes and where you enter, that’s it,” he said. “They all have the same video.”

The Starbucks where police say grand larcenies occurred in January include: 471 Broadway (at Grand); 195 Broadway (near Dey and Church); 38 Park Row (at Beekman); 120 Church (at Murray); 175 Chambers (at West Broadway); and 233 Broadway (at Barclay).

A Starbucks spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Along with keeping a close eye on personal property at Starbucks and other eating and drinking establishments, Iocco advises Lower Manhattan residents follow him on Twitter (@NYPD1Pct). “As soon as we develop these types of trends,” he said, “I send them out.”



'What posseses someone to leave valuables unattended?'

In reading the article about the rash of Starbucks thefts one can only marvel at the world we live in.  We have had criminality since Cain slew Abel, and will always have.  In the "good old days" one would put a handbag, shopping bag, or valuables between one's feet as they dined, or by the side on the floor.  Yes, a long arm or an umbrella handle and at times they were gone, but at least there was an awareness of theft. Not to pile on those who have had the financial and emotional loss, but what in the world would posses someone to leave valuables UNATTENDED as they wait on line? Perhaps with unremitting violence around us they have taken a Kumbaya approach to deal with it: if I don't think bad things then I'm protected against them.  Or more likely deep in thought with an impersonal, emotionally sterile gadget they are oblivious to the world around them.  

Now to Starbucks. They have cameras covering the registers—to protect THEIR money from thieving employees and others, but none covering the customers! And this in spite of a rash of such thefts going back years.  No one is that stupid at corporate headquarters. My guess is if they do have such cameras to protect customers  they fear that will require employees to stop the theft in progress and someone might get hurt.  While true, just tell the employees to stay out if it, call 911, and turn over the tape to police.

They also should realize if a criminal element starts praying on customers repeatedly at a location it's inevitable a patron will be attacked trying to stop it. Contrast that with banks, and nearby Whole Foods: saturated with overhead cameras: try to steal a steak at WF and it will be your last meal in freedom for a while.  

The only way to protect ones self is to use common sense, be cognizant of the situation, and avoid merchants, yes Starbucks, that might be injurious to life and property.