A coalition of New York businesses is calling on city and state officials to more aggressively address larceny and retail theft following the assault of a grocery store cashier in the Bronx last weekend.
In surveillance video of the incident at Food Universe Marketplace on 312 E. 194th St. in Fordham Manor, a group of people is seen instigating a physical fight with a cashier — punching and hitting the employee on the head.
A spokesperson from the NYPD confirmed with the Bronx Times on Tuesday that officers from the 52nd Precinct responded to Food Universe Marketplace just after 1 p.m. on Sunday. The cashier, a 24-year-old female, refused medical attention on the scene.
Pedro Goico, a Collective Action to Protect our Stores (CAPS) member and operator of Food Universe Marketplace in Fordham Manor, announced a $2,500 reward for information that would lead to the arrest of the group that assaulted the cashier.
“I am putting this reward up so that anyone with information is compelled to come forward,” Goico said in a statement. “Too many workers, like our brave cashier, have been attacked, and enough is enough — we need action.”
Police said the motive for the attack was still unknown, and that no arrests had been made as of Tuesday.
In a statement sent to the Bronx Times, CAPS said that employees often face abuse during a robbery. The organization, which formed earlier this year, is made up of more than 5,000 small businesses across New York state that are calling on Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to address the lack of enforcement and accountability in instances of retail theft.
“Beyond the statistics on retail thefts going up, these are people — many immigrants — who are being attacked when stores are robbed,” CAPS said. “We need our leaders in City Hall and Albany to step up to protect our workers, stores and ensure customers can shop in safety.”
New York State Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia, who represents the Fordham area within District 86, told the Bronx Times in an interview Wednesday that the incident at Food Universe Marketplace was senseless.
“People are trying to make their living and trying to work and they have to be fighting for their life, it just doesn’t make any sense at all,” Tapia said. “That lady is scared to come back to work.”
This is an example of a larger problem, Tapia said, which includes not just the prevalence of violence for violence’s sake, but also other issues surrounding food and job insecurity. Tapia said her team tries to assess the root of violent crime and identify trends, rather than just look at these types of instances at the surface level. She said one of the primary ways she works to combat violence like this is to invest in job creation.
“Those are the things that are going to be important for us to continue fighting the gun violence and the violence,” Tapia said.
The assemblymember said she’s heard about theft and larceny in her district, but she doesn’t often see this type of attack happen — especially against employees. Tapia added that she has reached out to the 52nd Precinct to request more officers in the area, and plans to get in touch with the cashier who was assaulted.
The office of State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, whose District 33 includes the Fordham area, said in a statement to the Bronx Times that the incident was “unacceptable.”
“New Yorkers should not fear assault when they show up to their jobs,” the statement said. “I hope that the worker is recovering and that the perpetrators are brought to justice through the investigation.”
Jacob Long, the communications director for U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, said the incident was “a terrible and completely unnecessary act of violence,” and that “no one should have to live in fear of going to the grocery or convenience store.” The assault happened just outside of Torres’ congressional district.
Reach Camille Botello at [email protected] or (718) 260-2535. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes