Trader Joe's Customers Preyed on by Thieves in Cobble Hill, Cops Say

By Heather Holland on May 23, 2012 6:38am 

Trader Joes in Boerum Hill has recently been hit with a series of larcenies, but the store still has no security cameras.
Trader Joes in Boerum Hill has recently been hit with a series of larcenies, but the store still has no security cameras.
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Dnainfo/Nguyen Thanh Tuan

COBBLE HILL — Trader Joe's has ignored pleas from police to install surveillance cameras despite a recent rash of thefts from customers at the jam-packed Court Street grocery, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.

There have been five reported thefts this year from unattended shopping carts at Trader Joe's, including two within several minutes last month — cash from a bag set up in a police sting and a cell phone from a woman's purse, according to sources and court documents.

Capt. Jeffrey Schiff, who commands the 76th Precinct, recently informed the precinct community council that the store had no cameras and confirmed yesterday that he had sent officers to the store several times to implore Trader Joe's to install cameras.

The cops were rebuffed.

"Trader Joe's, since they've opened, haven't seem too concerned with what's going on inside the store," said another police source. "They seem to have the attitude of whatever happens, happens."

On April 24, Steven Bekka allegedly lifted the cash from a dummy purse set up by plainclothes officers from the 76th Precinct.

When cops arrested him outside, they discovered two cell phones — one allegedly taken from the bag of a 23-year-old Trader Joe's shopper and one spirited out of an unattended pocketbook a half hour earlier in the Ikea on Beard Street in Red Hook.

Bekka has had a total of 32 arrests, and 20 of them were for larcenies, sources said.

Despite the threat to its customer's property, Trader Joe's has yet to heed the NYPD’s recommendations.

To combat the rash of larcenies, the precinct has increased foot patrol in front of the store and implemented a series of sting operations like the one that led to Bekka's arrest for petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, sources said.

A spokesperson for Trader Joe's confirmed that the store does not have surveillance cameras within the facility, but declined to comment further.

Ikea, which cops said also lacks surveillance equipment, did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

At least one customer was unfazed by the risk of shopping at Trader Joe's.

“It can happen anywhere, not just this store,” said Magdalena Norvik, 36, as she was waiting with her child outside the store. “You have to be careful. I never leave a bag on the shopping cart.

"I’m upset hearing this, but this is still the best store in the city. I love it.”

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