Fed up with a surge in shoplifting, a coalition of mostly Latino supermarket owners across the New York City area are raising $70,000 to back Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin in the last days before the election, The Post has learned.
The group of 70 entrepreneurs — who operate supermarkets under banners including Foodtown, Keyfoods, Fine Fare, Bravo’s, C-Town and Met Foods — are donating $1,000 each to Zeldin at a fundraising event on Monday at Cafe Rubio in Corona, Queens.
The Long Island congressman’s promise to crack down on criminals who are looting grocery stores is resonating, said Nelson Eusebio, head of government relations for the National Supermarket Association, a trade group.
“These are Hispanic supermarket owners who have previously voted with the Democrats,” Eusebio told The Post. “But we are exhausted and need results.”
Top on the grocers’ wish list is holding shoplifters accountable for a rash of thefts, including reinstating bail for misdemeanors and felonies. New York passed a sweeping bail reform law in 2019 prohibiting cash bail for all but the most serious misdemeanors and felonies.
“We are frustrated and tired of Democrats saying that bail reform has not affected crime negatively,” Carlos Collado, a registered Democrat who owns two Fine Fare supermarkets in the Bronx, told The Post. “We are seeing a different reality.”
Zeldin has promised if elected to declare a crime emergency in the Empire State and bypass Albany legislators by suspending state laws that limit cash bail, solitary confinement and how gunmen under age 18 can be tried in adult courts.
He has also said he would fire Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has been criticized for being soft on crime. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s reps raised doubts about whether Zeldin’s crime emergency strategy is constitutional.
“The issue today is that shoplifting has turned violent,” Collado said. “That’s where this is going. We have had to rumble inside our stores because the [thieves] don’t have any fear.”
Collado himself faced a knife-wielding thief in one of his Bronx stores recently, he said.
Samuel Collado, the owner of a several Keyfood supermarkets in Queens who also is attending the fundraiser, said he is neither a Democrat or Republican.
“When you see essential businesses like pharmacies closing their doors because of crime, that’s an alert,” he told The Post. “We would like to see and hear about proposals that will address crime and policies on public safety.”
“Most of us have determined that Zeldin is speaking our language that he understands what we need,” Carlos Collado added.