Local elected officials recently held a meeting with area law enforcement and members of the business community to address an increase in retail thefts and shoplifting incidents.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Senator Joseph Griffo and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenshon discussed ways to crack down on and prevent thefts at local businesses.

The meeting came after area business owners reached out to Griffo and Buttenschon with concerns about an increase in shoplifting.

“Our small businesses have faced significant challenges and struggles during the coronavirus pandemic. They shouldn’t have to worry about daily thefts from their establishments as well,” Griffo said. “This discussion, which will continue, was a good first step that allowed us explore ways to reduce shoplifting in the area and provide for some much-needed relief to local business owners.”

Initiatives to help reduce and alleviate instances of shoplifting in the region are expected to be announced in the coming months.

“These are hard times for the small businesses of Oneida County, and we have done everything under our power to support them throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Picente said. “On top of all they have been through, falling victim to theft is a slap in the face that will not be tolerated. We must do all we can to snuff these crimes out, and I thank Sen. Griffo and Assemblywoman Buttenschon for spearheading this effort to address this serious issue.”

Agencies and organizations participating in the meeting included the Utica Police Department, Rome Police Department, New Hartford Police Department, Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, Oneida County District Attorney’s Office, Oneida County Emergency Services, Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers, the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce and the Genesis Group and Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley.

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