Tiffany customers ditching blue bags for plain ones as NYC crime soars


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Apr 03, 2023

Tiffany customers ditching blue bags for plain ones as NYC crime soars

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NYC shoppers are browsing — and buying — in incognito mode.

Amid an uptick in crime, luxury shops on Fifth and Madison avenues are increasingly offering customers nondescript white paper bags to conceal their high-end purchases. The simple sacks cover up the stores’ signature shopping bags — think Hermès orange, Tiffany blue and Cartier red — that can be a target of thieves.

"You don't want to attract attention," said Lavi Rudnick, 38, who works in fashion and had been browsing Hermès’ Madison Avenue flagship store on Friday with his wife, Julie.

After shelling out nearly $3,000 on a handbag and a pair of scarves, the pair opted to disguise their purchases in a white paper bag. Only a trained eye could discern the flash of trademark orange peeking out from the edges.

The couple, who live in Williamsburg, said they’ve been taking extra precautions as of late.

"We’re hesitant to wear nicer things — like nice watches [in public]," Julie told The Post. "I know crime is up; if I’m in the subway, I hide everything."

There were 148 complaints for grand larceny in the previous 28 days through May 14 in the Midtown North precinct, where Fifth Avenue flagships such as Tiffany's, Cartier and Louis Vuitton are located, an increase of 94% from two years ago; and 132 complaints in the 19th Precinct that's home to Madison Avenue flagship Hermès, which represents an increase of 55%.

Manny Ferrer, a sales associate who's worked in the luxury handbag department at Bergdorf Goodman for a decade, told The Post he had been assaulted last Monday around 10 a.m. on his way to work from Port Authority.

"I noticed a man lunge at a woman and hit her shoulder hard to the point where she was hurt. She stumbled a little and kept walking," he recounted.

"Then, boom, he hit me on the side [of the face] … he's screaming at me, ‘Go ahead, call 911!’ The police came. My ear was swollen. Thank God he didn't pull out a knife. I was shaken up."

While he said his department didn't offer the white bags, he thought they seemed "generally a good idea."

Meanwhile, an employee at Hermès told The Post that the white bags are offered to customers who purchase high-ticket items "just for discretion, if you’re walking the streets."

At the newly reopened Tiffany & Co. flagship at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, an employee told The Post that white bags are available to customers who ask for them; an employee at Louis Vuitton's Fifth Avenue flagship told The Post the same.

Melissa O’Connor, president and CEO of the Retail Council of New York State, told The Post in an email that stores have ramped up asset-protection protocols such as trained security guards, but urges: "That alone will not solve the challenges facing retailers."

O’Connor stated, "Stores have had no choice but to think creatively and invest in security measures, as retail theft complaints in the city have increased by 77% over the past five years.

"We have spent an extraordinary amount of time as an industry focusing on solutions to reverse this trend, while also prioritizing the safety of employees and customers."

On Wednesday, Mayor Adams announced his administration's plan to combat retail theft, which soared 44% from 2021 to 2022.

Recent Fordham graduate Jose, 23, who declined to give The Post his last name, walked out of Cartier on Fifth Avenue Thursday evening with a pen he had purchased for upward of $500.

He had it concealed in the store's white bag.

"I think it's pretty smart, honestly," he said of the trend.

"I’ve seen people get things swiped while studying here so it's a good call to use the white bags. It feels safer."

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