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The Threat Against New York’s Bodegas

Weather: Mostly sunny with a high in the mid-50s, going down to the mid-40s tonight.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Dec. 25 (Christmas).


It’s the place to grab a loaf of bread — or toilet paper — when the grocery store is sold out, where New Yorkers can get a cup of coffee and a lotto ticket while scratching the bodega cat’s ear.

But as the pandemic continues and more people lose their jobs or fall on hard times, bodegas have increasingly become the targets of crime.

[A crime wave hits bodegas, threatening a lifeline in the pandemic.]

Here’s what you need to know about the threat against neighborhood stores:

In the first eight months of the pandemic, there was a 63 percent rise in shootings inside or in front of bodegas and corner stores.

Bodegas also faced a 222 percent increase in burglaries and a 10 percent spike in robberies, according to police department data. Six people have been killed in or outside of stores.

Some criminals have capitalized on the pandemic to target the stores, said Fernando Mateo, one of the founders of the United Bodegas of America, an organization that represents about 20,000 bodegas in New York.

“Some are taking advantage that everyone is wearing masks to commit crimes,” Mr. Mateo said.

Crime and gun violence surged in the city as the pandemic wore on, particularly during the summer. Shootings doubled this year compared with last year, and murders increased by nearly 40 percent.

Police officials have said that gang feuds, economic devastation, program cutbacks in poor neighborhoods and the diversion of police resources to cope with civil unrest have contributed to the violence.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has previously suggested that the pandemic was partly to blame as the city dealt with a “perfect storm.”

In late October, Mohmediyan Tarwala, a 26-year-old store employee in Queens, was fatally shot when he tried to escort a chronic shoplifter out.

Some police officers have been warning store clerks and owners about the dangers of confronting shoplifters.

“We tell them it is not worth getting hurt or even killed over a $3 gallon of milk,” Officer Nicole Spinelli told my colleague Edgar Sandoval. “It can quickly escalate. Our advice is to call 911 instead.”


The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

Although many performance spaces, museums and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions for maintaining a New York social life this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.

On Friday at noon, join a free discussion about the future of the “(sub)urban waterfront,” community narratives and how the arts can be a tool for social change.

Register on the event page.

Learn about Kunqu, a form of traditional Chinese theater, on Saturday at 8 p.m. Trace a part of its history through the memories of Chung-ho Chang Frankel, an opera singer, poet and calligrapher.

R.S.V.P. for the free livestream on the event page.

On Sunday at 2:30 p.m., watch “The Lost Spirits,” a documentary about a Native American family in Queens. There will be a Q. and A. after the screening.

Register for free on the event page.

It’s Friday — listen and learn.


Dear Diary:

maimed angels

tumble
through sun-fired shafts
into valleys of glass

the sea rides tidal fields
clashes with squalls
climbs over people

in this self-made labyrinth — this uterine center

there’s this precise angled gyration

to every day

& every day — it unfolds

tall buildings unfold
the sky unfolds

& shoots up from its hidden bunker & leans

imperceptibly on its sculpture of stone

so what now — you prepare a meal
& a mouth snaps open

& an ancient animal latches on

a woman loosely robed

pulls a sword from her throat

a man lights a newspaper
watches it burn

people on fire run into the sea

— Iain Britton


New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. Sign up here to get it by email. You can also find it at nytoday.com.

What would you like to see more (or less) of? Email us: nytoday@nytimes.com.

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