Midtown merchants ask Hochul to help stem New York’s booming crime scene

Crime is rampant in Manhattan’s key business districts – and local business leaders band together to demand help from Governor Kathy Hochul.

Crime in Manhattan’s Midtown South borough is up more than 50% year-to-date, wreaking havoc in a key corridor for commuters and shoppers alike that includes Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and the Port Authority, police data shows.

In the Upper East Side, which includes premier shopping malls on Madison, Lexington and Third Avenues between East 57th and East 86th Streets, the rate of grand larceny is up 45%. Organized shoplifters targeting high-end boutiques are a key reason for the rise, according to retailers.

“Organized crime in our district is our biggest problem,” said Matthew Bauer, President of Madison Avenue BID. “And the fact that there is a market for the goods that are stolen from stores.”

That’s why Madison Avenue BID teams with Midtown business improvement districts to send a message to Albany asking Hochul and other New York politicians to help them deal with the mentally ill, drug addicts, and brash criminals who are increasingly free hand was left .

Governor Hochul stands in front of a microphone.
Business leaders lobby Governor Hochul to fight the rise in crime.
Getty Images

“The deteriorating public safety and quality of life in Midtown Manhattan needs and deserves a solution,” the Midtown BID Coalition said in a letter to Gov. Hochul in late March, on the eve of budget discussions.

High-profile violent attacks on visitors and New Yorkers alike — some resulting in murder — along with reports of smash and grab thefts in the city’s clayey neighborhoods and commuters being harassed by the mentally ill, are shaping the Big Apple’s image as one created lawless city, business groups say.

A survey conducted in March by the Partnership for New York City found that “personal safety” is the number one concern for employees in the New York area when they decide to return to their Manhattan offices.

NYPD officers with an arrested man in handcuffs.
NYPD officers arrest a homeless man charged with fatally stabbing a man near Times Square.
Stephen Hirsch
Michelle Go
Michelle Go was pushed and killed on subway tracks in Times Square in January.

According to the Times Square Alliance, crime in Times Square rose 20% in January 2022 from last year’s already grim numbers. And while the number of people passing through the world’s crossroads hit 320,000 in the last weekend of March — a “solid improvement,” according to Alliance President Tom Harris — it’s still 19% lower than the same period in 2019.

“There’s certainly a perception that the city isn’t as safe as it used to be and that there are no consequences for minor violations,” said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, which is part of the newly formed Midtown BID Coalition is whose sole focus is on public safety.

Midtown South, the 14-block stretch from 30th to 44th Streets between Ninth Avenue and Madison Avenue, has seen a 51% increase in crime this year from the same period a year ago, according to police data.

The real number is likely higher, as most people don’t take the time to file a police report when they “get hit on the head and rush to the subway,” said Barbara Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance.

A homeless man leaning over a rail in a subway station.
Business leaders say the state needs to allocate more funding to programs and services that address NYC’s homelessness.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A man sits at the bottom of a subway stairway.
According to a March survey, commuters say their biggest concern when returning to their offices in the city is safety.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In fact, last year 16 of the local business group’s 70 employees were physically attacked on the way to their offices at 209 West 38th Street – including Vice President Jerry Scupp, who along with his adult son was attacked by a deranged man on the way to, according to Blair went home to the A train.

“A man started screaming and started brutally attacking my son from behind and hitting him on the head and back,” Scrupp told The Post. “I jumped between them and he started hitting me and screaming.”

The surge was fueled by ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision at the height of the pandemic to house 1,200 of the 10,000 homeless New Yorkers who previously lived in communal accommodations in the Garment District’s 53 hotels, according to the Alliance.

The Garment District has a disproportionate number of methadone and needle exchange clinics because it’s largely zoned for manufacturing, though most sewing factories have long since moved out of the neighborhood.

NYPD and FDNY officers investigate a crime.
Officers inspect a crime scene.

“The drug dealers moved in,” Blair said, and never left.

“We’ve been disproportionately impacted due to the way the city has used this neighborhood during the pandemic,” Blair added. “What I see is public disorder, people walking around and intimidating others, and that’s what scares people.”

On the Upper East Side, stores are closing earlier lately, Bauer said. Before the pandemic, more stayed open until 7pm, but now many close at 6pm.

In February, the RealReal boutique on Madison Ave. was struck when a group of seven crooks stole approximately $500,000 worth of jewelry, watches and handbags. Incidents last year included an attack on Givenchy’s flagship store, in which a group of thieves smashed open the door with a hammer and stole $80,000 worth of handbags and clothing.

“There is now a significant security presence in stores,” Bauer said. “The lights stay on overnight and stores are investing in a film that goes over a window glass to make it impact resistant.” Midtown merchants ask Hochul to help stem New York’s booming crime scene


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