Target to Close East Harlem Store, Blames Shoplifting

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Target is packing up its store at East River Plaza in East Harlem along with eight others around the country that it claims have become hot spots for shoplifting, the company announced Tuesday.

The East Harlem location, which opened at 517 East 117th Street in 2010, will shutter Oct. 21 along with two stores in Seattle; three in Portland, Ore; and three in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., Target said.

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“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests,” a spokesperson for Target said in a statement.

The statement said Target’s 96 other stores in the New York market and 1,900 across the country will remain open.

Target has claimed massive revenue loss due to shoplifting in recent years. The company said it lost $400 million in 2022 from stolen goods in its stores nationwide and said it was on track to lose $600 million this year for the same reason.

Other retailers have reported similar woes due to shoplifting. Earlier this year, Mayor Eric Adams launched a new Organized Retail Theft Task Force within the New York City Police Department and vowed to crack down on retail theft in the five boroughs. 

Police reports of petty larceny in New York City are down 3.8 percent compared to the same time last year, according to NYPD crime statistics. In the 25th Precinct, which covers East Harlem and Randall’s Island, reports are down 2.5 percent since last year. 

The anti-shoplifting efforts were not enough to make Target change course.

Company executives made the “difficult decision” to shutter the stores after attempts to invest in theft prevention strategies failed to make an impact, according to the company.

Target leases part of the second floor of the shopping center at 517 East 117th. Other tenants include Costco, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Burlington, Marshalls and other department stores.

Staff at the stores slated for closure will be offered positions at other Target locations, the company said.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.