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OpinionColumnistsMike Vogel

Put brazen ice cream bandits in the cooler

Ice cream.

Ice cream. Photo Credit: iStock

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. And no one is screaming louder than Manhattan drugstore managers, who are seeing Chubby Hubbies and Chunky Monkeys swiped from their coolers by brazen ice cream thieves.

As we move into prime ice cream season, chain drug retailers are keeping a sharp eye out for the coldhearted crooks who pilfer such premium brands as Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs, then sell them at a sharp discount.

So when you buy these brands at a local bodega, are you eating hot ice cream? If you live uptown, it’s more likely, a police source told the New York Post. “They [the crooks] take the pints of ice cream and resell them uptown at bodegas in Harlem and Washington Heights,” said the source.

The most shoplifted items from drugstores are usually small, dry and easy to hide, such as razors and cosmetics, with widespread ice cream theft a newer phenomenon. But ice cream melts quickly (duh), and the stolen pint purchased at a bodega most likely has been refrozen, which produces freezer burn, marked by ice crystals and a funny taste. Yuck! Perhaps an appropriate punishment would be force-feeding the crooks this icy mess until they get brain freeze.

Drugstores are targets because they have fewer people on staff than big department and discount stores, so there’s less chance of the criminals getting caught.

Ice cream theft at NYC chain drugstores first hit the headlines in October, when thieves grabbed 242 pints from a TriBeCa Duane Reade, according to Grub Street. A CVS in Chelsea has been robbed of the frozen treats three times. Meanwhile, cops grabbed one alleged group of sticky-fingered bandits after multiple thefts, including a single haul of $1,683 worth of ice cream. That’s cold.

As ice cream theft has progressed from an occasional nuisance to an ongoing drain on profits, drugstore managers are increasingly getting the police involved, according to the Post. So bodega owners in on this scam face a rocky road — because the next person offering them stolen ice cream at a ridiculous discount might be an undercover cop.


Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at


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