Tom Ford Store Opening, NYC

Shoplifting is a downside of doing business for many retailers, including some designer boutiques on Madison Avenue, where the problem has intensified in the past six weeks.

The Tom Ford boutique is among the stores to have had merchandise stolen by shoplifters in the past week. Manager Jordan Sromek said the incident is being investigated internally and with the New York Police Department.

As is often the case, the shoplifters have been working mostly in groups and have struck area boutiques like Brioni, Celine and Balenciaga. A sales associates at Brioni deferred comment to the company’s spokesman, who later declined comment.

Asked about the recent shoplifting, a sales associate at Celine described the situation as “strictly confidential” and declined further comment. A Balenciaga spokesman declined comment.

The recent neighborhood incidents have been “a little more brazen and fearless,” according to Sromek, who said, “There’s definitely been an uptick in the past month and a half to two months elsewhere.” Given that, Tom Ford’s in-house security team is “very much aware” of the situation and “is here at all times.”

He declined to disclose any additional information about what type of merchandise was stolen.

A NYPD spokesman said Friday there were not any records of shoplifting arrests on the Upper East Side stretch of Madison Avenue. There was, however, a burglary early Thursday morning at Edit New York at 1298 Madison Avenue. The store’s front door was forced open, two jewelry lock boxes were pried open and an estimated $77,000 worth of jewelry was stolen, according to the NYPD.

Matt Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, acknowledged that shoplifting is certainly always an issue at all stores in the area and with fashion brands worldwide.

Indicative of the scope of the problem is a 2018 report that showed that 20 large retailers nationwide said they apprehended more than 279,000 shoplifters and dishonest employees, according to the National Retail Security Survey. Those retailers recovered $114 million from those apprehensions, about 8 percent of total theft at retail.

The Madison Avenue BID continues to work closely with the NYPD’s 19th Precinct to help businesses take preventive measures against shoplifting and other potential crimes. On Aug. 20, the BID held one of its “managers’ mixers,” and focused on how to try to prevent shoplifting.

NYPD officers continue to patrol up and down the avenue, as do the local BID’s public safety officers. The BID is continually having safety briefings with area businesses, especially around the holiday season, when shoplifting spikes, Bauer said. “We want to make stores as safe as they can be,” he said.

As for how the problem of shoplifting is changing, Bauer said, “I would not exactly say it’s any worse but it’s concerning. As businesses have reopened, they are already in a more difficult situation, due to the shutdown and with not as many people on the streets due to the issue of COVID-19.“

Another Madison Avenue retailer, Dennis Basso, said shoplifting is not an issue in his store. The location is only open by appointment, due to COVID-19 related precautions.

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