First on Fox: New York City's largest business group held a second meeting with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday, as crime continues to surge and he faces mounting pressure following his controversial memo that has been branded as "soft-on-crime."
Kathryn Wylde, the president and CEO of Partnership for New York City, told FOX Business that the meeting with Bragg went well and said he was attentive. He announced a Manhattan small business alliance aimed at reducing shoplifting and commercial robberies. She said some of the stories shared at the meeting were disturbing.
Wylde said that the focus was largely on retail and included representatives from luxury brands as well as department stores and banks, who expressed how crime in their places of business has terrified employees and customers alike.
According to Wylde, Bragg heard about crimes happening at businesses in the city that were not hitting the press, and business owners told him that conditions in the city were worse than many realize.
Wylde said Bragg acknowledged that the crime surge in New York is not just about guns and shoplifting. She says the stories shared are "very concerning" and that employees and customers alike are frightened about the new trends.
One restaurant owner told the prosecutor about a valued employee who did not show up to work one day. The concerned owner went to find the dependable worker, who is an Asian woman, and found that her face was badly bruised.
The employee revealed that a suspect pushed her into a train – not onto the tracks, but into the side of the train itself ahead of her trip to work. She said the incident left her scared and that she was afraid to make her commute, acknowledging that she did not report the crime.
Another issue was the rise in shoplifting – but not just any shoplifting. The attacks are calculated, coordinated, and brazen.
Retailers talked about how, for instance, if a homeless person steals a muffin, it's something they would let go assuming that the person is hungry and it's not a situation worth reporting. Now, a new trend has emerged.
"Organized groups come in. Saunter in. Take whatever they want." Wylde told FOX Business. "That's what seems to have everyone spooked – this is just civil disorder."
The business owner of a computer repair shop shared that they had now resorted to keeping their storefront locked and only allowing customers in on an appointment basis. Larger retailers said they had hired off-duty police officers to serve as security for their stores, but the computer shop owner said they ran the numbers and they simply couldn't afford it.