Not a sweet story: Thieves make off with hundreds of gallons of ice cream

NEW YORK, Sept. 5 (UPI) — New York police hope this doesn’t become a “cold case”: Thieves have allegedly stolen several hundreds cartons of ice cream since November in the city.

Police say the culprits steal the high-end ice cream cartons and resell the “hot property” to bodegas and corner stores throughout the city.

They have struck 11 times at pharmacies in Manhattan, including chains Duane Reade, CVS and Rite Aid. In all, they’ve stolen 1,249 ice cream bars and gelato, police said.

During business hours, they have made off with cartons and boxes of Häagen Daaz, Ben Jerry’s or Talenti ice cream. They also stole Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Muscle Milk and cold medicine.

In all, they’ve stolen 1,249 packages.

In February, police busted seven thieves for shoplifting incidents, including one of $1,683 of ice cream.

Deputy Chief Joseph V. Dowling, with the police department’s grand larceny division, said they are investigating businesses that may be acting as fences, paying about 25 cents on the dollar for each carton that normally sells for $6 a pint.

“They go and resell it to local mom-and-pop stores, bodegas, delis, things like that,” he said. “They transport it in freezer bags with dry ice or those frozen packs. You’re traveling to sell it.”

The thieves aren’t even secretive.

“They come at night, like two or three of them, with bags,” Gabriel Rosario, who was stocking shelves at Duane Reade near Washington Square Park, told The New York Times. “They fill them up and run out of the store.”

Jason Valentin, an employee at a Duane Reade five blocks away, said two men came in with duffel bags.

“I saw them and they saw me,” he told The New York Times. They dumped the ice cream on the floor and ran out.”

One CVS store manager he saw nearly 150 ice cream cartons, worth about $935, stolen.

Stores are fighting back.

John A. Catsimatidis, the owner of the New York City grocery chain Gristedes, announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the thieves. On Aug. 21, the police arrested a man and a woman on charges of stealing ice cream from a Gristedes.

Catsimatidis paid the reward to a worker at a bodega who notified the police the suspects tried to sell stolen ice cream.

Catsimatidis said his stores no longer display Häagen-Dazs in stacks.

Cashiers at a Duane Reade play a recorded warning over the public-address system — “Security, walk the floor” — when they see someone behaving suspiciously.

At a CVS store, an alarm has been installed on the ice cream cooler.

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