Aims to close 9 stores citing “theft” and “employee safety”

Target is withdrawing its shares in Harlem because of rampant theft and violence, one of nine stores the discount chain plans to close in crime-ridden cities across the country, the company said Tuesday.

The major retailer, which opened the East Harlem location to much fanfare in 2010 as a revitalization of the neighborhood, announced it would close all nine stores on Oct. 21.

“We cannot continue to operate these stores because theft and organized retail crime threaten the safety of our team and guests and contribute to unsustainable business performance,” the Minneapolis-based chain said in a statement.

The other locations slated to close are in San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon – all cities with progressive prosecutors who refuse to prosecute shoplifters even as the scourge of organized retail theft has increased since the pandemic.

Target is closing its East Harlem location on October 21 after opening to much fanfare in 2010.

Shoplifting complaints at the East River Plaza retail complex — which also includes Costco and Marshalls — have increased by more than 40% since the pandemic, according to NYPD complaint data analyzed by The Post. There were 665 complaints in 2022, compared to 468 in 2019. According to the latest available data, 289 complaints were filed as of June this year.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was heavily criticized for not filing charges against shoplifters. However, his office said Tuesday that the number of shoplifting complaints in the county has declined 14% this year.

“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat repeat shoplifters who harm our local businesses,” a Bragg spokesperson said.

Nevertheless, the wave of robberies at the locations that will soon be closed damaged the company’s bottom line and endangered the safety of employees, the company said.

Target said it has invested “significantly” in strategies to stop shoplifting by deploying more security guards and “theft deterrents,” but to no avail.

“Unfortunately, despite our efforts, we continue to face fundamental challenges in operating these businesses safely and successfully,” the company said.

The spate of recent robberies has hurt the company’s bottom line and endangered employee safety, the company said.

“Unfortunately, despite our efforts, we continue to face fundamental challenges in operating these businesses safely and successfully,” the company said.

Target said it has invested “significantly” in strategies to stop shoplifting in its stores by deploying more security guards and “theft deterrents,” but to no avail.

Target’s crime-fighting efforts included training its employees and security teams on how to “protect themselves and de-escalate potential security issues,” as well as working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and advocating for the Combating Organized Retail Crime Act in Congress.

The 2,000-store chain has also hosted “store walks” with members of Congress and other lawmakers and law enforcement to educate them on how it fights crime.

Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, who represented East Harlem when the Target store opened, lamented the loss to the neighborhood.

“Graduation is a problem. Target was a neighborhood fixture for many years. That’s a lot of jobs,” Mark Viverito told The Post. “Target delivered products at a price that was important to the community.”

Target did not say how many workers at the East Harlem location will be laid off or whether they will be transferred to another location in the city.

An employee at the store confirmed to The Post that he was informed of the closure by Target on Tuesday.

“This is terrible! The target is just a block away from me. It’s sad to see all this,” said former East Harlem state Rep. Adam Clayton Powell IV.

Target will close nine stores in four major cities by Oct. 21, the company said Tuesday.

“I am disappointed to hear the news today of the closure of the East Harlem Target,” City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala said in a statement. “This store was a lifeline for many East Harlem residents, providing jobs and stability for their families. The thought of the hardship this closure will bring to those who rely on these jobs is disheartening.”

According to the company, Target has 96 stores in the New York City metropolitan area and employs more than 20,000 people. The company continues to operate Manhattan locations in Times Square, Union Square, Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side and Washington Heights.

There are also plans to move to a new building at 121 W 125th Street in Harlem. as The Post previously reported.

Target did not immediately respond to questions about its plans for 125th Street.

When Target opened the E. Harlem store at 517 E. 117th St. in the summer of 2010, greeting shoppers with a giant “Hello Harlem” sign, it marked the culmination of a decade of lobbying city officials and had courted residents to allow a big-box store to gain a foothold among the neighborhood’s mom-and-pop shops.

Target was eager to avoid the backlash that its main rival, Walmart, faced when it wanted to open a store in New York City and was blocked by union representatives and elected officials.

The company’s efforts to win over Harlemites reportedly included charitable donations at the time, including renovating a public library and transporting goods designed by local artists.

The store also carried a “generous selection” of Spanish-language and Ebony greeting cards, gospel and Latin music, as well as Spanish-language books and films, religious candles and multicultural dolls aimed at the neighborhood’s predominantly Latino population.

Target was among the first major retailers to publicly blame crime for deteriorating financial results. Chief Executive Brian Cornell sounded the alarm in May when he said the company would closely monitor the “safety” of its employees as it weighed its options.

The company said it is concerned about the “safety” of its employees as retail thefts become more aggressive.
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In August, Cornell said on an earnings call that “violence and threats of violence” had increased 120% in the first five months of the year.

“Our team continues to face unacceptable levels of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Cornell said at the time. “Unfortunately, security incidents related to theft are trending in the wrong direction.”

Target’s move to close the nine stores follows another massive round of store closures, including Rite Aid, which has filed for bankruptcy and is reportedly expected to close up to 500 stores in the coming months.

with Craig McCarthy


DUSTIN JONES is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DUSTIN JONES joined USTimeToday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with DUSTIN JONES by emailing

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