Crime and its connection to bail reform


First, the good news. Long Island has consistently been named one of the safest major metropolitan areas in the United States. And in recent years, Nassau County has repeatedly been named the safest county in the nation. Violent crime is down to levels that are among the lowest ever recorded. The Nassau County Police Department is second to none, and we are fortunate to have our law-and-order procedures under the leadership of Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and District Attorney Anne Donnelly, who are tough on crime and willing to enforce our laws to protect the public at the highest levels legally allowed.

Now the bad news. Long Island is the midst of a crime wave. While violent crime is in check, property crime has been on the rise. Crimes such as car theft, burglary and grand larceny have spiked to unprecedented levels. Retail theft has gotten so out of control that many stores are placing products under lock and key.

That hasn’t served as much of a deterrent, as overall larceny on Long Island, which includes all theft except auto, jumped by 34 percent from 2021 to 2022. According to the Retail Council of New York State, retailers statewide lose about $4.4 billion per year from retail theft. And who pays for that? Naturally, it’s the consumer, in the form of higher retail prices to make up for the losses, further contributing to the rise in inflation. Such activity also puts store workers at risk of being assaulted should they attempt to intervene against shoplifters.

Why is this happening? In my opinion, it’s no coincidence that what we’re seeing is directly tied to the progressive bail reform laws passed by Albany lawmakers in early 2020. Those laws, led by cashless bail, have emboldened criminals, who have learned they can commit these types of crimes without fear of being kept in jail if they get caught.

While the mainstream media and progressive elected officials find all kinds of excuses to either sugar-coat these facts or offer other reasons for this crime epidemic, I believe it’s becoming increasingly clear that bail reform is the major contributor. There’s hardly a day that goes by without the issuance of an NCPD notice describing one or more people being arrested for committing a crime that too often also involved a previous arrest, but resulted in the perpetrators being released due to cashless bail. In too many cases, these criminals are back out on the street within hours, with no fear of repeating or even escalating their criminal activity.

Early last year, the NCPD issued warnings about organized crime rings that were sneaking small teams of men across the border to rob and steal, knowing that if they were caught, they would likely receive nothing more than appearance tickets. Since then, these gangs have been committing all kinds of crimes, mostly of the auto theft, burglary, and retail theft variety.

Recently, Gov. Kathy Hochul finally woke up and publicly recognized that the dramatic increase in retail theft was a statewide problem. Her proposed solution includes creating a task force to combat organized retail theft, and provide funding, in the form of tax credits, for businesses that invest in prevention and security measures. The proposal also calls for new sanctions against those caught selling stolen merchandise.

This Band-Aid approach to addressing this serious situation won’t solve the problem. Instead, how about our Albany leaders finally accept the reality that bail reform in its current state is not working and needs to be fixed? Start by eliminating cashless bail and aggressively prosecute all thefts, including those involving less than $1,000 in stolen goods, while enforcing and prosecuting other crimes that are adversely affecting our quality of life. Then, perhaps law and order will prevail, and the criminals will get the message that their bad actions will not go unpunished.

Bill Gaylor represents Nassau County’s 14th Legislative District.