Gov. Kathy Hochul is talking tough when it comes to shoplifting. Building on a major theme of her State of the State speech last month, Hochul on Wednesday laid out an action plan to tackle the scourge of retail theft.

It’s a problem that is especially pronounced in the city, officials say, affecting retail businesses small and large, and in some cases leading to violence against workers.

"We are going to take back our stores,” Hochul said, "starting today."

What You Need To Know

  • At a lower Manhattan event Wednesday, Gov. Hochul highlighted her action plan to tackle retail theft

  • Her proposal, first announced last month, would create an interagency joint operation modeled on illegal gun enforcement efforts 

  • The plan includes criminal penalties for online platforms that drive the black market and increased penalties for assaulting retail workers

  • Hochul's proposal would allocate $45 million in new funding, including $5 million to help stores install security measures

At the heart of the governor’s proposal is a new joint operation including state, local and federal law enforcement, modeled on the Interstate Task Force On Illegal Guns that Hochul said has helped curb gun violence.

“If you don’t have an entity, a concerted effort to connect the dots, if someone who may be stealing in Queens, and they cross the border into the Bronx or Manhattan, who is tracking their behavior?” Hochul said. “Who is identifying from video cameras that a suspect may no longer be in that jurisdiction?”

“The idea is for it to be seamless,” said Steven James, superintendent of the New York State Police. “A one-stop shop with a crime analysis center and we maintain that information.”

Hochul’s plan includes new criminal penalties for online platforms and other third-party sellers that drive the black market, in addition to increased criminal penalties for assaulting retail workers. It would also allocate $25 million for a new State Police smash-and-grab enforcement unit; $15 million in targeted funding for district attorneys and local law enforcement; and $5 million in tax breaks to help business owners install security measures.

Hochul tried to head off any potential criticism that the approach is heavy-handed.

“We’re not talking about a kid who makes a mistake one time. We’re not criminalizing poverty here,” she said. “We really are focused on what has become a sophisticated, organized retail operation — the smash-and-grab efforts. They go in and swipe everything off the shelves.”

Hochul will have to win support from the Democrat-led legislature to get the measures passed in the state budget, which is due April 1.