In an effort to deter shoplifters, businesses near Penn Station are employing a new kind of security guard—one that walks on all fours.
The 34th Street Partnership, a trade organization that promotes small businesses around Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, has decided to employ security guards with dogs in tow to prevent shoplifting from local stores.
“[Shoplifting] has been an ongoing problem for number of years, and it’s been increasing,” explains Kevin Ward, Vice President of Security and Operations at the 34th Street Partnership.
“One of the other places in the district had a K-9, and we thought it was very effective,” he continues. “So we started a pilot project here to try to prevent shoplifting.”
The program began as a trial on February 2nd, but Ward says it may be extended.
He says that decreased police presence in the area led the 34th Street Partnership to take matters into their own hands.
“There aren’t many foot patrols in the area,” he says, “so we put our security officer here to stem the shoplifting and disorder.”
Security guards with dogs are currently stationed outside the CVS on 34th and 8th, among other locations. While the dogs are obviously unable to detect shoplifting behavior, Ward says their presence outside stores intimidates would-be thieves.
“Usually store managers will let us know if someone is attempting to steal, and if they’re taking something out we’ll confront them,” he says. “But also, people are deterred by the presence of the dog.”
Ward says that already since the start of the initiative, “known shoplifters have walked past the door and just kept walking.”
Shoplifting rates have increased over the past decade. NYPD statistics show 115,658 instances of petit larceny in 2022, compared to only 93,785 in 2000.
“Usually store managers will let us know if someone is attempting to steal, and if they’re taking something out we’ll confront them. But also, people are deterred by the presence of the dog.” Kevin Ward, VP of Security, 34th St. Partnership.