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Park Slope Food Coop Busts Two Members for Allegedly Stealing $18,000 Worth of Groceries

That’s a lot of organic produce. Photo: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

NYPD has arrested two Park Slope Food Coop members who the store says pilfered a combined $18,000 worth of groceries in the past year. Co-op co-founder Joe Holtz tells Gothamist that members suspected the two men, one of whom was 79 (!), of stealing food during their separate visits, but “let them leave” since the co-op’s official policy about shoplifting is to never confront someone until it’s “really certain” they’re a thief. (A pretty laissez faire policy, all things considered.)

These two men passed that threshold of certainty, though, and when each one returned — the first on November 30, the other on December 6 — and tried swiping more organic seaweed and dried papaya spears or whatever, the co-op was ready. Cops apprehended them with $87 and $135 worth of food (a negligible amount of which they did actually pay for). The co-op says it calculated the $18,000 figure by reviewing surveillance footage for the days their names appeared in the sign-in book. Its 16,000 members believe there are always lessons to learn from episodes like this, for example that “Socialism is never going to work if we’re being greedy,” but Holtz says their newsletter, the Linewaiters Gazette, purposefully published news of the arrests in hopes that blowing them up into a big deal will serve as a future deterrent, even though members “don’t agree with all aspects of the criminal justice system.”

Park Slope Co-op Busts Members for Stealing Groceries