ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Experts say more than 13 billion dollars worth of goods are stolen from retailers every year and only one in 48 shoplifters are caught. One lawmaker who had first-hand experience with a shoplifter is now proposing legislation to protect employees who intervene.

“I just, I immediately turn around, I chase the guy down in the parking lot, and I just grab the handle bar and I just you know in a threatening voice said ‘LET IT GO.’ I’m not letting this little piece of you know what get away with this,” said Assemblymember Michael Fitzpatrick, who was able to ward off an attempted thief at his local target in Suffolk county.

But it wasn’t easy, “And he goes ‘Mind your own business!’ And I put the brakes on and stopped him and had both hands on the handle bar and I said ‘LET IT GO’ and he just ran off,” explained Fitzpatrick.

The timing was interesting, considering just two hours prior, the lawmaker proposed legislation to protect employees who try to prevent shoplifters. The idea was inspired after Fitzpatrick read a New York Post article detailing how a Lowe’s employee was left jobless and with a bruised eye after trying to stop three shoplifters. The reason for her termination? Violation of company policy. In this case, after the story aired the employee did get her job back. But Fitzpatrick fears the next incident wont end the same way. 

“So yes, technically there may have been a violation of company policy for what this young lady did, but it shouldn’t be a black mark on their record …. it should be an asterisk. Because what they did was the right thing. They thwarted a theft of merchandise and no one should lose their job over that,” said Fitzpatrick.

Most employees are instructed not to chase after shoplifters, but instead get a description and report it to loss prevention. Our Capitol Correspondant, Amal Tlaige was told shoplifting has also been hitting the food industry.

Michael Durant President & CEO of Food Industry Alliance of New York, weighed in, “Well it’s definitely been far more pervasive in the last few years, than we had seen say, pre-pandemic, just to use that as a marker in time. I think that this is something that has moved beyond just an urban issue, it’s an urban, it’s a suburban, it’s a rural issue. Retail food stores are seeing pretty dramatic uptick in thefts.” Fitzpatrick said he only recently filed the bill and hopes to get additional sponsors soon. In