NYC'S SHOPLIFTING SPIKE: Adams tells WINS, 'There's a small number of people who are causing havoc in our city'

Mayor Eric Adams takes a tour of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on November 17, 2022 in New York City.
Mayor Eric Adams takes a tour of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on November 17, 2022 in New York City.

Photo credit Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday spoke exclusively with 1010 WINS reporter Juliet Papa about issues affecting the city and what's on his agenda for 2023 now that he is no longer in his "rookie year." The takeaways:


Last week, the NYPD released its crime statistics for 2022, showing a 22% rise in overall crime citywide compared with 2021—but also significant drops in the majority of major crimes like robbery and murder in December.

After statistics on shoplifting revealed that there were 63,000 complaints and 327 people accounted for 30% of the arrests, Adams said that the ratio verifies what he has been saying: "There's a small number of people who are causing havoc in our city."

"There's one line of shoplifters who are professionals," Adams said. "They sell this stuff online. We found a whole warehouse full of stolen goods. There's another line [of people] who need help. They're on drugs, they're dealing with mental health illnesses, they need food."

The mayor, a former NYPD captain, argued that there should be variances in how those groups are handled under the law.

To begin, Adams said he wants to "separate those who should be prosecuted" as such "from those who are in need of socialists overseas" and connect them with those social service organizations.

"Give them the help they need," he added. "So they're not part of the revolving door of being a shoplifter."

Adams said that his administration is "now formalizing" a policy for distinguishing between "the professionals" and those in need of assistance.

"So why not go and deal with why are you stealing in the first place?" he added. "That's what we want to do. We want to go to the foundation of the problem."

Though it's unclear when a plan would be released, Adams said that he's "hoping to get it rolled out right away" to address the "real issue" that it's affecting the city's economy and low- to middle-income New Yorkers who work in those targeted businesses.

"When [these stores] close down and leave our city, we're hurting our tax base, and we're hurting our job pool," he added.

While shoplifting is harming the city's "bottom line" and "destroying" the retail business, Adams said it's "not as terrible as some of the other municipalities—this has become a national phenomenon because of social media. He emphasized the importance of finding "creative" solutions to the problem, including facial recognition technology.

"Number one, use the attorney general so it could be a statewide effort," he added. "Number two, finding creative ways of bundling together."

"If you are habitual person that goes into a store over and over again, you should be identified, and even use the technology. Why wait until someone steals? There's some good facial recognition software that can alert people right away that this person is a habitual stealer. They were warned they cannot come into the store. They can immediately go after that person as soon as they walk in and notify the police."

"I have the obligation as the mayor to make sure our businesses are able to operate in a safe environment," the mayor continued. "It is my obligation. That's not their obligation, and we're going to solve the problem."


Adams said the impact of the influx of migrants is "having a financial toll" on the city — upwards of $1.5 billion.

"Everyone is sending migrants to New York City, Chicago, Washington, Houston, some of the other large cities, and we're going to have to make some serious decisions," he added. "And so we have to look at how every city service is going to be impacted by what is happening with the migrants."

He said he "can't be more clear:" "Every city serivce is going to be impacted."

"We're making these smart decisions to be ready for the financial turbulence that we see ahead of us," he added.

Whether it's opening hotels for migrants or rebuilding a humanitarian shelter on Randall's Island, Adams said his administration "must respond" to the crisis that's in front of them.

He appeared to blame the administration of former Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying his team "inherited crises upon crises."

"People don't even realize when we cycle out of the crises because we manage those crises with the team we have," he said.

The mayor said that the current migrant influx does not require the reopening of the Randall's Island tent shelter, which closed in November as the rate of newcomers slowed.

"We will do whatever is necessary to make sure that no one has children and families are not sleeping on our streets, because we cannot house them in a dignified manner," he said.


Gov. Kathy Hochul committed to boosting the number of accessible beds in psychiatric treatment centers in her State of the State address, with New York City getting 100 additional beds on top of the 50 beds she had previously set aside.

Adams said these beds, which he said are for "long term" treatment, are the result of the closure of psychiatric institutions.

"We basically stated that there's a segment of our society that can't take care of themselves in their basic needs," he added. "We basically sent them out and said, 'You're on your own,' that was just being, that's idealism, that's not realism."

He said her expansion will allow people who require long-term care to receive "the proper treatment, the proper community, the proper medication follow-up," and then "they're able to properly function in society."

Adams said the issue has been "in the making for decades."

"Do we have the perfect system built out?" he asked. "No, we do not. But all we continue to identify what the needs are? Yes, we are."

Adams said that there are conversations with state officials about housing more people at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, a state-run facility in Queens.

"That's a large facility," he added. "A lot of space. There's so much we could do with that space."


“I think we want a casino Downstate, no matter where it is,” the mayor said, noting the decision will ultimately be made by the state.

While he’s pushing for more gaming, he also believes the right safeguards should be in place to keep people from falling into debt.

As the former chairman of the State Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, Adams said he knows “how powerful it is to have a casino in an area if it’s done correctly.”

“It’s a job builder, it’s an economic boost,” he said.

The Broadway League and others have expressed concern a casino may bring more crime to the Times Square area.

Adams assured doubters that there will be an increased police presence to match any new casino, whether it’s in Times Square, Hudson Yards, Willets Point or somewhere else. The casino itself will also have safety measures in place.

“You look at what’s taking place out in Queens over at the [Aqueduct Entertainment Group] facility, we don’t hear any major issues,” Adams said. “They have a great security team.”

Adams believes a new casino will help the city bring in more tourists as it continues to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

There were 56 million visitors in 2022, “but we’re looking to go even higher next year,” Adams said. “Anything we can do to attract New Yorkers here, we say ‘hooray’ to it.”


“I'm a big believer that we have underutilized technology to run our city more efficiently,” Adams said.

Technology can be used to make a safer, more efficient city and make residents more aware about the resources available to them, he said.

“This is this is the year for me of technology—it's time for New York to stop being afraid of the transformation that's taking place in other major cities across the globe.”

Last year, Adams announced a new Office of Technology and Innovation and the creation of MyCity, a system to connect New Yorkers to the services they qualify for.

“This has been a thought of mine for a long time: one card with all of the information of every New Yorker,” he said.

“Not only that New Yorkers won’t have to fill out forms over and over again, but also that we will seek out New Yorkers and tell New Yorkers, ‘Do you know you qualify based on your data for SNAP, for WIC, for rent reduction?”

“There’s so many resources that are available for New Yorkers, that they don't know how to navigate the bureaucracy,” he said.

The card will “take away the burden and the bureaucracy of navigating government,” what he called a “huge advantage” for everyone. “We’re closer to finally getting it done,” he said.

While the city will be expanding its use of technology, Adams reassured New Yorker that it will stay “within the laws.”

While technology is useful, “it cannot become abusive,” he said. “And whatever ways the City Council and the state lawmakers tell us we're allowed to use technology, we're going to operate within those boundaries.”


Last year, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge surpassed Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, considered baseball’s “clean” standard for the sport.

Asked if Judge will be getting a ceremonial “Key to the City,” Adams said, “You know he is.”

Adams said his team is planning it now. “We’re communicating with the Yankees organization,” he said. “If they accept, we would love to give it to Aaron Judge. It was a historical moment.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 17: Mayor Eric Adams takes a tour of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading on November 17, 2022 in New York City. Stocks are expected to fall as the stock market opened with interest rates rising as Federal Reserve officials signal more interest rate hikes to continue to slow down inflation. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)