Sunday 22 April 2018

New York billionaire offers $5000 reward for capture of ice cream bandits

John Catsimatidis says he has lost as much as $400,000 to the gangs as the city swelters in summer heatwave

Part of a haul of ice cream intercepted by police
Part of a haul of ice cream intercepted by police

Rob Crilly

New York is in the grip of a heatwave and the city’s crooks have come up with a dastardly new way of making money.

Gangs of ice cream thieves are targeting supermarkets and upmarket grocery stores, stealing dozens of tubs and then selling them on to corner shops for a fraction of their value.

Things have got so bad for Gotham’s best known grocer that John Catsimatidis, whose businesses are thought to be worth three billion dollars, is offering a $5000 reward.

He said he had lost about $400,000 to the thieves in the past six months.

"It's been happening all over New York City," he said. "There are these gangs who go in with bags and load up with Haagan Dazs, $700 to $800 at a time.

"One distracts the manager while the others do it."

The gang are targeting expensive brands and are thought to be selling them for as little as a tenth of their value to unscrupulous store owners.

Earlier this week police said a couple stole 80 tubs of ice cream - 49 of Haagen Dazs and 31 of Ben and Jerry’s - from Catsimatidis’ Gristedes store in the smart neighbourhood of Chelsea.

Overall, police confirmed there had been 250 complaints of ice cream theft and 130 arrests so far this year.

"We are working closely with the retailers to combat the thefts of ice cream," said a spokesman.

Mr Catsimatidis owns more than 30 stores throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of New York state.

Ice cream is in particularly high demand this summer as New York sweats in the humid August heat.

On Friday the National Weather Service issued an “excessive heat warning”, forecasting temperatures soaring to 43C.

Things have been so bad that last month New York state ordered municipal swimming pools and parks to extend their opening hours to help residents keep their cool.

Independent News Service

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