Detectives are looking for the Midtown shoplifter who punched and seriously injured an off-duty police officer who tried to stop him from stealing items from a pharmacy on Friday morning.
Police said the off-duty cop was working a paid detail in uniform at the Duane Reade located at 155 East 34th St. at about 11:35 a.m. on Dec. 10 when pharmacy employees informed her of an individual shoplifting at the location.
The female officer then attempted to stop the shoplifter as he was heading for the exit, law enforcement sources said. That’s when the crook when on the attack, punching the cop in the face before fleeing the location on foot.
The entire incident was caught on camera inside the store. The footage shows the suspect slugging the sergeant in the face as she attempted to prevent him from leaving the location.
The incident was reported to the 17th Precinct. EMS brought the injured officer to Bellevue Hospital, where she was treated for a broken facial bone, a laceration to her left ear and head pain. She was listed in stable condition.
According to authorities, police and pharmacy workers recognized the suspect as a frequent shoplifter at the location. It’s not clear, however, whether he succeeded in taking any merchandise during the caper.
Shoplifting is a larceny, under police guidelines, but the crime evolves into a robbery when the suspect involved assaults an individual attempting to stop them, such as this case.
Earlier in the week, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said that shoplifting jobs had contributed to a 24% increase in robberies citywide in November, helping to drive an overall 21% jump in index crime for the month.
“We’re up significantly in shoplifting incidents that turn into robberies, because of resistance on the part of the store owner or someone else involved,” Shea said during a Dec. 8 briefing.
As for the suspect in Friday’s caper, police described him as a man with a dark complexion who wore a dark-colored hooded jacket, dark-colored pants, and dark-colored shoes.
Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.