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Crimes on the Rise at Red Hook Ikea, Police Say

By Nikhita Venugopal | November 10, 2014 7:39am
 Ikea's Brooklyn location at 1 Beard St. in Red Hook
Ikea's Brooklyn location at 1 Beard St. in Red Hook
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Flickr/Jules Antonio

RED HOOK — Swiped cellphones, car break-ins and fights with staff were just a few of the rising number of crimes that were reported at Brooklyn’s Ikea between January and September this year — more than the total number in all of 2013, according to NYPD data.

The Swedish chain's mega-store, located at 1 Beard St., saw one robbery, one felony assault and 10 grand larcenies from January through Sept. 30, surpassing the 11 major crimes that occurred at the store last year, records show.

This year, the majority of grand larcenies came as a result of shoppers leaving their valuables unattended, according to police.

In most cases, victims of these thefts left their personal belongings, including handbags, cellphones and iPhones, in shopping carts, on counters or in the shop’s cafeteria, police said. The valuables were swiped while the unwitting customer was busy shopping, according to police.

In other incidents, cellphones were stolen from a charging station inside Ikea while the owners weren’t paying attention, police said. Valuables were also taken during car break-ins in the parking lot.

Aside from grand larcenies, Ikea saw one assault and one robbery in the nine-month period this year.

In the assault case, a man was arrested after a dispute involving an employee working behind the cash register, police said.

In the robbery, a security guard tried to stop and then fought with a thief who was attempting to steal something from the store, police said.

The 76th Precinct has successfully instituted at least two programs at the store to combat thefts.

On Aug. 2, the precinct made one arrest when a thief tried to steal $20 from a wallet that was left seemingly unattended by police officers through a program known as Operation Lucky Bag, police said.

To prevent car break-ins at the parking lot, the precinct launched a program last year called Operation Spot it to Secure it, in which a team of officers canvas public areas for valuables, such as iPads, GPS devices or packages left visible in vehicles.   

Ikea, which opened its Brooklyn location in 2008, has been working closely with police to crack down on crime, said local marketing manager Lorna Montalvo. The store wants to “make sure that customers are safe and aware of their surroundings,” she explained.

Along with security guards and overhead announcements that remind shoppers to keep track of their personal belongings, Ikea also employs undercover “agents,” or staffers who aren’t in uniform but keep an eye out for things that are left unattended.

Roughly eight to 10 agents, who are trained through Ikea's Safety and Security Department, monitor the store during certain shifts, Montalvo said.

“We want to make sure that [the customers are] safe,” she said.