Police are warning Upper East Side small business owners that now is the time to take extreme measures as overnight burglaries continue to surge this year, shooting up nearly 25% compared to last year.
Cops are asking restaurants and retail shops, like the UES toy store and gift shop Lisa’s on Second, to leave their lights on, inside and out, and keep registers empty and open when the store is closed so that criminals will immediately recognize there is no cash inside and keep on moving.
Lisa Dragonetti, owner of Lisa’s on Second, went even further. Three weeks ago, Dragonetti, whose business is already working to deter rampant shoplifting, started leaving a prominent sign reading ‘EMPTY REGISTER’ next to her open cash register. This idea came from Jose, one of her employees.
“We leave nothing in the store,” Dragonetti explained, “We’re doing whatever we can to prevent people from coming in.”
Cops also recommend UES businesses use metal roll-down shutters if their storefront has them and remember to test and set their alarms.
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In response to the increased threat to mom-and-pop shops and large chains alike, the NYPD’s 19th Precinct, which serves the Upper East Side, has accordingly surged the number of officers on patrol each night. However, the increase in cops on the beat has not yet been able to curb the spike in burglaries in 2023.
Joe & The Juice became the latest Upper East Side business to feel the squeeze from bold criminals breaking into shops overnight and swiping cash from the registers, police confirm to Upper East Site.
A tipster alerted us to the crime after seeing investigators collecting evidence at the UES juice bar and coffee shop, located at 1320 Third Avenue, at the corner of East 75th Street, during his morning commute.
Police say a staffer showed up to open the store early last Wednesday morning to find that the lockbox was gone along with the keys. Once inside, detectives say she discovered a crook had not only cleaned out their cash register, they had swiped the dough inside the shop’s tip jar.
The suspect or suspects got away with $270, police said. A description was not immediately available, and the investigation is ongoing, police added.
“Would you leave your key under the mat? Leaving it in a key lockbox is just as bad,” the NYPD’s 19th Precinct wrote on social media in a warning to business owners two days after the Joe & The Juice break-in, adding, “Several stores have been burglarized after suspects break open lockboxes and use the key to enter.”
Police say instead of using a shackle-style lockbox, it is safer to have designated employees hold spare keys, adjust delivery times so a worker is present, or install a more secure wall-mounted key safe that’s able to withstand a physical attack.
According to NYPD crime reporting data, burglaries on the Upper East Side are not only outpacing last year, but the gap is widening.
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Earlier this month, police reported a 20% increase in break-ins year-to-year; however, just three weeks later, the figure has grown to 25%, showing the tide has yet to turn in the fight against this rash of burglaries pulled off under the cover of night.
A review of Upper East Side crime reporting data shows that Wednesdays and Thursdays remain the prime time for break-ins.
“Anybody that gets caught doing this, we go right to the district attorney’s office, we ask for the highest bail possible,” promised Deputy Inspector Bill Gallagher, commanding officer of the NYPD’s 19th Precinct, during a meeting with members of the public last month.
“I want you to know that this precinct takes crimes against your business extremely seriously,” Gallagher added.
If you witnessed the Joe & The Juice break-in or have any information to help investigators track down these overnight burglars, please call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477.
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Bail laws need to be changed. Commit even 1 crime, you’re put in jail for at least the number of years equaling your age. Interesting though, how it’s always the same group of people committing the crimes. You know the ones, who think their lives matter but only complain when police officers hurt them and not when their own hurt other people. Not racist, just a native New Yorker, and besides, cameras don’t lie.