With nearly half of small businesses closed citywide due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, crafty crooks are taking advantage by using shuttered shops to hit open stores after hours.
One small business owner in Queens called it "a perfect storm for any burglar."
"I don't leave money in the store anymore," Sabri Dani, owner of Dani's Pizza in Kew Gardens, said Monday. "I'm scared someone is going to break in."
"Crime begets crime," added city Councilman Mark Gjonaj, chairman of the council's small business committee. "A vacant storefront begets another storefront. I feel like I'm watching a slow train wreck that I can't stop."
Just hours earlier, brazen thieves busted into the Davidoff of Geneva cigar shop in Midtown, making off with nearly $60,000 in pricey stogies after breaking in from the empty store next door, according to police.
But the Sixth Avenue retailer hasn't been the only target.
On Feb. 9, a crook threw a brick through the front door of a store up for leasing on Staten Island and broke into the Dominican Food store next door on Forest Avenue, a worker there confirmed on Monday.
Two days earlier, thieves made off with nearly $10,000 from a Metro PCS store on Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn, getting inside by breaking through a hole in the wall of "an abandoned establishment" next door, police said.