MANHATTAN — Your bodega ice cream may be hot.
A string of ice cream thefts at Manhattan drug stores was motivated not by a love of dessert — although that cannot be entirely ruled out — but rather by the resale value of the frozen treats, according to the 13th Precinct commanding officer Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney.
The crew of dairy bandits arrested earlier this month for stealing thousands of dollars worth of Häagen-Dazs and Ben and Jerry's ice cream from Duane Reade and CVS pharmacies across Manhattan were most likely flipping it to corner delis on the cheap, Timoney said.
“They’re stealing it and selling it to bodegas,” he said. “You see it with all kinds of stolen goods.”
Timoney added that the ice cream thieves are likely small-time operators with no connections to organized crime, but the frequency of the crimes makes it difficult for police to narrow down delis involved in the resale of stolen goods or dampen the demand for them, he said.
“It’s harder to find who they’re selling to unless they give us information,” he said.
Police rounded up seven thieves on Feb. 2 in connection to a monthslong shoplifting spree between November and January, where 28-year-old Philip Jaudoa and his crew of six, some of them minors, targeted six Manhattan pharmacies, distracting employees while others stuffed the frozen treats into backpacks and fled.
In one of the hits, Jaudoa and his team managed to snag a whopping $1,683 worth of ice cream cartons, including Häagen-Dazs, Ben and Jerry’s, and Talenti, according to a criminal complaint.
Four days after their arrest, a pair of shoplifters grabbed 66 containers of Häagen-Dazs valued at $375.54 from a Midtown Duane Reade, police said.
Just five minutes later, two thieves struck a West 57th Street Duane Reade, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, and walked out with 224 Häagen-Dazs containers worth $712.32, according to authorities.
Officials could not say if the two incidents were related.
Most recently, on Feb. 11, officers caught a teen red-handed as he tried to leave the Duane Reade at Broadway and 52nd Street with $54 worth of ice cream in his backpack, police said.