Crime and Safety

Hope jailing serial NYC shoplifter is a new start for Manhattan DA Bragg

Hey, look, everybody. Alvin Bragg is doing his job! Maybe Mr. District Attorney isn’t beyond embarrassment after all. 

Well, sort of doing his job. After Bragg’s office finally requested bail be set for a notorious serial shoplifter, a Manhattan judge did so — and one-man crime wave Wilfredo Ocasio, 44, took a trip to Rikers Island. 

Hard-pressed Manhattan retailers can be forgiven a smile, but there’s scant evidence that Ocasio’s long overdue detention reflects new prosecutorial policy. 

More likely it’s that Ocasio, who has done hard time for rape and robbery, was just a felon too far for Bragg. The ex-con has been busted 33 times for shoplifting since late summer alone. He seems to specialize in boosting Duane Reade stores — he was arrested in one Monday — but really, who knows what else he’s been up to? 

As for policy, this time Bragg got around New York’s ridiculously lax bail laws by artfully bundling Ocasio’s charges until, cumulatively, they warranted a bail request. 

Now he finds a way 

Bragg asked, the judge agreed and Ocasio went to Rikers. But the obvious question is: Why now? Why not in November, when the fellow was facing 23 boosting charges? At the time, the DA said pressing them would be “a waste of resources” — and so he didn’t. 

Yet the need was no less urgent then. So many city retailers have been protecting their shelves with locked Plexiglas panels that even Al Sharpton noticed! 

Wilfredo Ocasio
Wilfredo Ocasio had accrued 33 arrests since mid-August.
William Miller

“You go into a Duane Reade,” complained The Rev. “They have the little button and the guy comes and unlocks your toothpaste. I mean we are talking about basic stuff here.” 

The reason for this is clear enough. There’s good money to be made selling the swag to bodegas. 

But New York’s lunatic left holds that shoplifting — along with fare-beating and related offenses — are “crimes of poverty” and thus are not to be prosecuted. They’d rather lock up the toothpaste than the criminals. 

Bragg said as much during his successful 2021 campaign — and it has been Manhattan’s self-inflicted misfortune to have elected a politician who keeps his word. 

Until now, perhaps? 

Last summer, a Bragg press flack had this to say about the problem: “No grocer in Manhattan should have to experience theft. And our office has met with grocery store owners and teamed up with the NYPD and local businesses to tackle this issue head on.” 

Notice that “tackling this issue head on” in Alvin Bragg World involves meeting with grocers and “teaming up” with the NYPD — as opposed to actually prosecuting criminals

So imagine Wilfredo Ocasio’s surprise at once again being on the inside looking out — and, perhaps, wondering, “Why me?” 

That’s easy. Because you earned it, Wilfredo. Because you earned it. 

Not so obvious is whether this is an Alvin Bragg one-off — or whether the DA is coming to his senses as his rookie year draws to a close. 

Here’s rooting for common sense. 

Email: [email protected] 

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