Crime and Safety

Fed up New York merchants set up private patrols to fight crime

So fed up with rampant crime in New York City, a group of Bronx merchants took matters into their own hands and hired private security guards to keep order on the busy shopping street.

The five-person “Ambassadors Program” is hosted by the Fordham Road Business Development District from Wednesday to Saturday from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

The mandate of the unarmed ambassadors is to patrol the city’s busiest shopping area along Fordham Road from Jerome Avenue to Washington Avenue.

According to Fordham BID, they will meet and greet sellers and buyers to deter thieves and also serve as extra eyes throughout the Fordham area to report any suspicious, unsafe or criminal activities.

Bronx Councilman Oswald Feliz, who represents the Fordham Road shopping corridor, said more needs to be done to crack down on serial thugs who are “crippling local businesses and local jobs.”

So fed up with rampant crime in New York City, a group of Bronx merchants took matters into their own hands and hired private security guards to keep order on the busy shopping street.
So fed up with rampant crime in New York City, a group of Bronx merchants took matters into their own hands and hired private security guards to keep order on the busy shopping street.

Vendors selling goods on East Fordham Road.
The five-person “ambassador program” is run by the Fordham Road Business Improvement District.
New York Post

But he hopes that this will be the beginning.

“A few months ago, the American Eagle left Fordham Road due to constant thefts – more than 20 in one day,” Feliz told The Post.

“No business can survive like this. And we are concerned that this could have a domino effect on other businesses that are also facing similar challenges. I have spoken to employees who have been threatened with pepper spray and more, and they are quitting. No one can work in such conditions.”

He added: “I’m still learning the program, but I hope it helps.”

“Our businesses are the cornerstone of our commercial corridors and neighborhoods that support local jobs, supply local goods and generate billions of dollars in economic development,” said Vilma Alonso, President and CEO of Fordham Road BID.

“And to ensure the success and prosperity of our business, we need to make sure we listen to their concerns, including with a focus on public safety. We hope this new program can serve as a model for other business corridors across the city to empower and create additional resources for those who work, shop and live in our communities.”

Member of the Ambassador Program.
Politicians are demanding that state legislators approve laws designed to curb professional thieves.

Politicians, including Mayor Eric Adams, and even civil rights activists such as Reverend Al Sharpton, are demanding that state legislators pass laws to curb professional thieves who damage businesses and force merchants to put goods under lock and key.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said she wants to change the cashless bail law to give judges more leeway to hold dangerous defendants with long-standing previous records pending trial, but so far hasn’t been able to make significant changes.

The Post previously reported that illegal vendors and gamblers have taken over part of Fordham Road’s commercial lane thanks to a new city law that shifts enforcement duties from the NYPD to the Department of Consumer Affairs, which has no power to confiscate goods or even require identification. . from street vendors.

Fordham Road BID officials stressed that the ambassadors will be assisting local police rather than replacing them, and council member Feliz said he wants to increase NYPD spending to get more cops on the case.

Patrol ambassadors earn $18 an hour.

A spokesman for Fordham Road BID said it funds safety initiatives through its assessment charged to merchants, though it also receives discretionary grants from city council through Feliz.

Curtis Plum
Curtis Sliva called the Fordham Road private security patrol nothing more than a “patchwork quilt”.
Stefano Giovannini

The business group is looking for a more permanent source of funding to continue the ambassador program beyond February.

Meanwhile, the business owners welcomed the guards with open arms.

“The Patrol Ambassador program is great. It’s good for businesses to have another security service besides the NYPD. Incidents happen on the streets too, and ambassadors are a useful tool of deterrence,” said Daniel Quinones, Jimmy Jazz manager at Fordham Road.

Vendors say theft isn’t the only problem – violent crime is a major concern.

Earlier this month, a woman eight months pregnant was shot in the leg by a stray bullet while walking along the Grand Concourse near East 192nd Street on the Fordham estate.

The Post also recently reported that grocers in other parts of the Bronx are cracking down on serial thieves by slipping steel chains through the handles of laundry detergent bottles and securing them with padlocks, a new low in the fight against shoplifting in the Big Apple.

According to Fernando Mateo, the organization’s president, the “locks and chains” strategy was developed by United Bodegas of America following a surge in theft.

“The justice system just isn’t cooperating and it comes to the point where you either have to lock up all the items that are about to be stolen or you have to fight back,” Mateo told The Post earlier this week.

“And if you resist, you risk going to jail for protecting your property.”

Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels volunteer patrols created back in the 1970s, described the private security patrols on Fordham Road as nothing more than a “patchwork quilt”.

“This patrol will not work. They can’t raise their hands on anyone. They have to call 911. Everything goes back to the police. You need more police.”

Meanwhile, Francisco Marte, head of the Association of Wine Cellars and Small Businesses, said: “Private patrols are not enough. We can do so much. We need more police. We have no consequences for criminals. We should go after the criminals, treat them, not give them fines.”

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