Cops sting purse-snatcher at Trader Joe’s!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Cops arrested a thief in a daring stakeout in the aisles of Trader Joe’s, the Court Street supermarket that has hosted a rash of purse-snatches this year.

Capt. Kenneth Corey of the 76th Precinct said that his undercover officers pose as shoppers in the popular supermarket a few times per week, but this is the first time that cops nabbed someone for stealing a woman’s purse.

“We do it on a regular basis, in many locations where we see increases in crime,” Corey said. “Trader Joe’s has been a hotspot.”

The Hawaiian-themed supermarket, known as much for the frequent robberies as it is for its low-priced, line-caught salmon, has attracted thieves who prey on shoppers as they walk away from their belongings to peruse the myriad offerings.

But on April 28, one perp’s day at the office didn’t go as planned.

According to police, two officers fanned out inside the store, with one officer and a sergeant remaining outside. One cop pretended to shop — and then drift away from her cart and the pocketbook on it — while the other officer kept watch from a distance.

At around 2:30 pm, a thief grabbed the purse — which contained $20 — and ran out of the store into an awaiting car.

But he didn’t get far. The inside officer had already radioed a description of the perp to the outside officer, who moved in quickly and arrested the suspect, who was also in possession of a small quantity of marijuana, which is not sold at the otherwise mellow supermarket.

“We have to wait for him to leave the store,” Corey said. “Otherwise, he could say, ‘I was just going to return it to the cashier.’ ”

And a small amount of cash is secreted in the purse so that cops can book the thief for a crime.

The ongoing stings have netted a variety of shoplifters, but this is the first robber, Corey added.

There have been at least four such crimes at Trader Joe’s this year — which the top cop partly attributed to the relaxing feeling that the store gives its customers.

“I’ve been in there myself and there’s a high comfort level,” he said. “In other stores, people clutch their bags like they’re an infant, but at Trader Joe’s, they don’t watch so closely.

“People walk away from their bags for 10 minutes, even,” he added.

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jack from Carrol Gardens says:
Oh no, the cops are bees!
May 5, 2010, 8:27 am
sid from boerum hill says:
Isn't it time Trader Joe's posted a notice about watching your handbags closely and telling staff to warn people? if this is a site where a police sting is required simple notice suffice? While I realize it is NY and people should know better, shouldn't the neighborly thing be to warn?
May 5, 2010, 10:31 am
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Anyone who shops in a grocery store where it's not unusual to have a 10 to 15 minute wait to checkout might be considered at least slightly clueless — or at least someone who so devalues time and money that the loss of a few bucks in a purse snatching is probably no big deal.

Some would say such a shopper is, almost by definition, a mark.
May 5, 2010, 11:16 am
Jerry Salinger from Park Slope says:
There you go again, Bob. You love your little Mom and Pop Key Foods, don't you? Well, I'll defend Trader Joe's; it's a good store with good prices and a friendly staff. I'm sick of being treated like dirt at those supermarkets you love.

Yes, I'm onto you, Bob.

May 5, 2010, 4:28 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
OK, Jerry, now you've p----d me off.

You probably like that anti-labor commune on Union Street as much as you like Trader Joe's (you know what I mean: the anti-worker PS Food Co-Op, where every wannabe-hippie member is a scab, stealing work from people who really need it).

I'll take my business to the UNIONIZED Key Food stores in Brooklyn Heights, where there's never a line and, particularly on Montague Street, service is generally delivered with a smile.

Admittedly, the employees at Trader Joe's — toiling WITHOUT union protection — are quite helpful and pleasant. Sort of like solicitors for the Church of Scientology, JWs, LDS or Chabad.

Prices at Trader Joe's are not, on average, such a deal (do some comparison shopping, Jerry, or is that the little lady's work?), and you'll find your budget goes a lot further at Key Food.

Maybe you and your multi-hundred-dollar-an-hour yuppie pals don't value your time (why should you, when you can get a government bailout whenever you run short), but us working stiffs can't afford to stand on a line for 15 minutes or more to buy a few hoity-toity groceries from a California corporation that's putting Brooklyn moms and pops out of business.
May 5, 2010, 6:57 pm
TT from Slope says:
Boys--settle down. Go to a bodega, a real mom and pop, and buy some milk and cookies.
May 5, 2010, 11:06 pm
Everard Bone from Downtown Bk says:
Honestly, is this the best use of cops' time? Sting operations in stupid Trader Joe's? Maybe they should take a look out the front door where shady gypsy cabs with Jersey plates fly through the red light at 60 mph on Court Street. What a joke.
May 6, 2010, 9:51 am
Jess from CG says:
You might want to look up the definition of burglar.
May 6, 2010, 12:43 pm
sosi from red hook says:
uuuuhh, isn't that entrapment?
May 9, 2010, 8:18 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
two points.
1. Cops enforce these types of crimes because the people who do these crimes normally do it more than once and do other crimes as well. Enforcing these "quality of life" crimes gets people with criminal minds off the streets...making them safer for all of us. and if the criminals think the police are around doing these stings they are less likely to do them at all.
2. entrapment is when the police plant in the minds of otherwise law abiding citizens the thought of doing a crime so if this was your first and only crime it may be entrapment but if you have done this before they haven't planted anything in the legal sense.
May 10, 2010, 9:05 am

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