Organized retail theft trend hits Sephora in Brighton

Organized retail theft trend hits Sephora in Brighton

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. — Brighton Police are investigating a few major thefts at the new Sephora on Monroe Avenue. The store has only been open since September of last year and has already lost thousands of dollars worth to theft.

Similar crimes have taken place at other big brand stores, like the Ulta Beauty in Victor. Both stores sell high-end, trendy beauty products.

“Everything in that store is very high value, so it doesn’t take much to push over the $1,000 dollar limit to make it a felony offense,” said Brighton Lieutenant Timothy Karch.

Karch described a spree that occurred on March 23, in which four unknown suspects were wearing masks.

“One individual stayed outside, waited in the suspect vehicle, getaway car I guess you could call it. Three others went inside the store with tote bags, filled the bags with various merchandise,” Karch said.

On April 1, police got another call to the store, in which they say a woman stole several thousand dollars of products. Elected officials and police agencies are already expressing frustration around this recent trend, where suspects aren’t just stealing one or two “necessity” items.

On Tuesday, Senator Chuck Schumer called on the Department of Justice to investigate organized retail theft, as he stood in front of an Ulta Beauty that lost $100,000 dollars to theft in the past year.

Police say often times, suspects get appearance tickets and are back in the streets.

“I wish I could say it was just the big brand stores,” Karch said. “But, it’s not, it’s pretty much all retail stores. Any place that has items that are easy to resell and exchange for money.”

Assemblywoman Sarah Clark, oversees the district for the Sephora on Monroe Ave. She said at the state level, they’re urging judges to use a new tool they enacted last year – which gives them more discretion for bail, on cases where there’s concern for a repeat offense.

“But it is our hope, that judges understand that these are tools they can use to help ensure and crackdown on repeat offenders,” Clark said.

But, she said these large retail schemes do require help from the federal government, which can provide different tools. Schumer said the DOJ can help by making sure they have increased federal penalties, and more importantly — they can go after the whole organized crime operation.

Eriketa Cost: “When people hear about thefts and bail reform, what’s going on? Maybe they jump to the conclusion that it’s a partisan issue – Republicans say one thing, Democrats say another. How are both sides working together and are there plans to work together and make more changes?”

Assemblywoman Sarah Clark: “Everything feels like its political these days. It’s hard to sometimes feel like you can have a conversation and feel like it’s not political. I think last year when we made the changes on the second offenses, involving harmed property or person, that was definitely a bipartisan thing from multiple people in our community who were really asking for it. I would underscore where I think we all really agree, is that there’s a lot more we can do in our community to prevent these things. We really need to invest in mental health services, substances abuse services. Our youth need more ways to keep them out of these paths.”

Clark said in the proposed budget, Hochul is looking into the possibility of creating some kind of task force to look into this organized crime, with state resources.