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Robbers Make Off With $50,000 of Gucci Merchandise at Gunpoint in New York

Gucci and other Kering brands are opening more US stores as sales in the country boom.
The suspects took the merchandise after telling shoppers and store sales assistants to lie down, police said. (Shutterstock)

New York police are searching for a black Honda SUV with New Jersey license plates after three robbers – two men and a woman – allegedly stole $50,000 of merchandise from a Gucci store in the city’s Meatpacking District at gunpoint.

The suspects took the merchandise after telling shoppers and store sales assistants to lie down, police said.

Video footage showed the robbery crew removing bags of product and rolling out suitcases in broad daylight, loading the Honda and speeding off. They were last seen driving into the Lincoln Tunnel toward New Jersey.

Tourists in the area told a local radio station they were surprised by the daytime raid. “It’s very daring and middle of the day for somebody to rob a very high-end store at gunpoint and put all the poor people there at risk, terrible,” said Rosemary Welburn, a tourist from Australia.

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Joe Salama, from Brooklyn, told the outlet he and his family had not travelled by subway to the area to avoid crime.

“So we came in to spend the day, you know? The kids are off from school today, it’s a nice family day and that’s, like, the last thing I would expect,” he said. “We decided to drive and not take the subway because we felt like it wasn’t maybe so safe. So I feel like things have deteriorated a little bit.”

The armed heist comes two years after Gucci’s store in SoHo was repeatedly knocked off during pandemic lockdowns. On one night, the ground floor was cleaned out of goods, and the basement the following evening.

In August, a smash-and-grab crew hit two other luxury retailers near Los Angeles and made off with $300,000 in Saint Laurent merchandise in multiple getaway cars. A similar sized crew of 30 to 40 people hit a nearby Nordstrom store the following day, making off with $100,000 in merchandise.

New York’s mayor, Eric Adams, has been waging war on luxury goods counterfeiters, including clearing traders off the sidewalks on Canal Street and over the span of the Brooklyn Bridge, but robberies of legitimate luxury goods from legitimate outlets pose a different problem for authorities.

Last month, the New York governor, Kathy Hochul, announced the formation of a new $25 million “smash-and-grab enforcement unit” to crack down on retail theft, support small businesses and retail workers “and bring peace of mind to New Yorkers.”

The National Retail Federation estimated that organised retail crime – defined as “the large-scale theft of retail merchandise with the intent to resell the items for financial gain” – accounted for “nearly half” of what retailers euphemistically call shrinkage, estimated at $112 billion in 2022.

However, the retail lobbying body was forced to correct that estimate when it was shown that the “nearly half” claim came from congressional testimony from Ben Dugan, an advocacy risk consultant.

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Gucci this week will attempt to restore its luxury luster at its fashion show in Milan under a new creative director. The brand had soared under the direction of designer Alessandro Michele, but he was fired in 2022 when sales stalled, taking with it half of owner Kering’s share value.

New designer Sabato de Sarno hit the reset button in September, saying he wants the world to fall for Gucci again and tell “a story of music and nights out, of sweat, dancing and singing … a story of family, of kissing, lots and lots of kisses” – a message that has yet to reach New York’s luxury smash-and-grab crews.

By Edward Helmore

Learn more:

The Organised Retail Crime Phenomenon, Explained

Reports of large-scale theft rings are driving US lawmakers to explore tough-on-crime policies. Data on whether there is a crime wave paints a more ambiguous picture. BoF unpacks the murky situation.

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