An NYPD officer patrols the Q, N, W, and R,...

An NYPD officer patrols the Q, N, W, and R, subway platform at the Times Square-42nd Street station. Credit: Sipa USA via AP/Anthony Behar

This year’s explosive 42% spike in serious crimes in New York City over 2021 is being fueled by a sharp increase in grand larcenies, according to the latest NYPD statistics provided to Newsday.

Law enforcement and criminal justice experts believe the surge in such larcenies — defined as the theft of property valued over $1,000 — is being partly fed by an uptick in shoplifting, including retail "smash and grab" heists at high-end stores and credit card scams.

The larceny increase for the first five weeks of the year is in stark contrast to the same period in 2021 when crime complaints for such thefts actually dropped 26.6%.

So far in 2022, there have been 4,826 grand larcenies reported compare to 2,975 in the same period for 2021. The spike is the key driver for the way overall serious crime totals have gone up, said Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD detective sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Such a trend early in the year is not a good sign for the police department and the new administration of Mayor Eric Adams, he said.

"If this administration can’t get [its] hands around grand larcenies now, they have lost the year, " said Giacalone referring to overall crime trends. "I know it is only February but you may never recover from it."

But Professor John Eterno of Molloy College in Rockville Centre, also a former member of the NYPD, cautioned that it is still early in 2022 and that crime statistic trends can still shift. Generally, Eterno believes that a return of more people to the city as COVID-19 abates is creating more opportunities for crime, particularly grand larceny.

NYPD officials couldn’t provide a breakdown Tuesday of the subcategories of grand larceny such as shoplifting, cellphone theft and credit cards. But earlier data released by NYPD reported that in 2021, more than 19,000 cases of shoplifting were reported, a 36% increase over 2020. While not all shoplifting incidents involved items over the $1,000 limit, it is likely that an increased proportion did break the threshold last year, officials said.

One high-ranking NYPD official who did not want to be identified said that one particularly troubling grand larceny pattern recently erupted in north Queens where gangs of thieves have been hitting retail establishments. In some precincts in that area, grand larcenies have risen anywhere from 120% to 358%, in the case of the 110th Precinct, according to NYPD data.

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