Lax security at Duane Reade stores on the Upper West Side has led to a surge in thefts — and an influx of criminals far more dangerous than petty shoplifters, cops warn.
An astounding 42 percent of the total 414 petit larcenies reported in the 20th Precinct between Jan. 1 and April 22 involved Duane Reade locations, according to NYPD statistics.
That’s 180 incidents at its eight stores in the neighborhood — or 35 percent more than the same period last year, police said.
The thefts are perpetrated almost exclusively by crooks traveling from outside the precinct to prey on the stores because, unlike other city Duane Reades, the Upper West Side locations don’t have armed security guards, said the precinct’s newly minted commanding officer, Capt. Timothy Malin.
“There’s a reason that a Bronx criminal says, ‘OK, I’m gonna take the time to go to Manhattan, the Upper West Side,’ ” Malin said. “Because there’s a security guard with a gun in The Bronx, but here, there’s not.”
The frustrated top cop said that when he presented his findings to Duane Reade security honchos, they argued that it was cheaper to write off the thefts than invest in guards.
“They just provided a cost-benefit analysis,” Malin said.
Among the theft suspects busted at the Duane Reade on Broadway near West 63rd Street this year was Wesley Walker, a reputed Bronx Bloods gangbanger with prior busts for rape and robbery.
The NYPD has become a de facto security force for the Walgreens-owned pharmacy chain — eating up valuable time that cops could be spending addressing other issues in the neighborhood, Malin said.
A Duane Reade spokesman said, “We are constantly evaluating our security measures . . . and place security officers in locations as needed,” adding that they “welcome input from police on how we can best deploy resources.”
Additional reporting by Ben Feuerherd and Aaron Feis