With 46 arrests for retail theft this year alone, this Man of Steal leads NYC’s record-shattering shoplifting surge.
Were he the supervillain in a heist movie, Isaac Rodriguez, 22, would be called Sir Isaac Lootin.’
But the real-life, allegedly violent bandit has no moniker — just a rap sheet 74 offenses long, dating back to 2015, according to police sources.
The King of Queens Thieves has been arrested 57 times this year alone, including in a vicious stabbing, police sources told The Post.
Rodriguez is finally in jail, but he rode the city’s revolving door of justice to allegedly rip off Walgreens 37 times this year. He was particularly partial to the drug store at 91-08 Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights, which he hit 23 times, police said.
He steals anything from protein drinks and body lotion, to baby formula and sexy lingerie, police said. He likes Dove soap and Victoria’s Secret merchandise too, according to court records.
During just one illicit shopping spree, on July 7 at the Jackson Heights Walgreens, Rodriguez took “10 units of Ensure, 12 Walgreens wipes, 15 units of Sensodyne toothpaste and 8 units of Cetaphil lotion,” court papers state.
“This guy comes here every day stealing, every single day. He comes and he steals,” fumed the store manager. “We call 911 and make a report, and that’s it. Our company policy is if anyone comes, because of a safety issue, we cannot stop him. We cannot do anything.”
“They steal and they sell,” the manager groused.
The manager said the Queens Klepto has been targeting his Jackson Heights store for “at least a year, at least every single day. … Whenever he goes to jail he stops. Sometimes he comes three, four times [a day] to get all of a [certain] merchandise.”
Rodriguez’ M.O. is not sophisticated. He doesn’t use fake bellies or false-bottom boxes favored by professional shoplifters. He simply enters the store and helps himself — filling a bag with items he plucks from shelves, and then walks out without paying, according to store employees and law enforcers.
He’s a one-man crime wave in a city that is being taken over by thieves, said an exasperated law enforcer.
“I don’t know how these [cases] have been handled, but clearly there has been no consequences,” the police source told The Post. “Looking at his rap sheet, there isn’t a hinge moment. He has a storm of criminal activity in his life. The outcomes have not dissuaded him from this path. There is a pattern of behavior that perpetuates a cycle of crime here. And it hasn’t been stopped.”
In addition to his 37 Walgreens strikes, he’s hit local Victoria’s Secret stores four times, Rite Aid (3), Target (3), CVS (2), Family Dollar (1) and Macy’s (1), police said.
He’s alleged thievery, which includes 42 counts of petit larceny and three for grand larceny (over $1,000 in value), escalated to violence, police said.
Pablo Cusco, 39, was kicked, beaten, robbed and stabbed by Rodriguez and others on June 7 while walking his dog near his Jackson Heights home at 3:20 a.m., police said.
The group asked Cusco for $1. When he complied, the thugs’ thank-you was to snatch his cell phone. When Cusco tried to resist he was pummeled, and was also treated at Elmhurst Hospital for four puncture wounds to his leg and buttocks.
A few weeks later, Rodriguez was arrested and charged with gang assault.
“He [Rodriguez} almost killed me. He should stay in jail for sure, for sure,” the Spanish-speaking Cusco told The Post through a pal who translated. “I was punched a lot and stabbed with a knife. I’m still scared because they may find me again.”
Three months earlier, the courts and prosecutors had a chance to get Rodriguez off the streets.
On March 12, Rodriguez was arrested after he was spotted on a roof landing of the Queensbridge North Houses in alleged possession of a large knife. He was charged with trespass and a violation for the knife, court papers state. He was issued only a desk appearance ticket.
“For the most part the top charge in his [Rodriguez] cases are not bail-eligible offenses,” according to a spokeswoman for the Queens’ District Attorney’s office.
He landed in jail when Queens Criminal Court Judge David Kirschner on Aug. 26 set bail at $15,000, based on a statute that allows bail when a suspect is charged with a crime involving harm to a person while out on their own recognizance for another crime.
The case stemmed from an Aug. 24 incident at the Walgreens on National Street in Corona where Rodriguez went through his shoplifting routine — this time he took cleansing and feminine hygiene products — but in doing so violated an order of protection. Rodriguez had hit the Corona location 13 times, sources said.
There are 77 other thieves right now walking the streets of New York with rap sheets of 20 or more shoplifting charges, NYPD sources say.
As of Sept. 12, the city has seen 26,385 complaints of retail theft — the most ever recorded (going back to 1995). It’s a 32 percent spike from last year (20,024) and 38 percent surge from 2014 (19,166).
“It’s very prolific and it’s really about recidivism. That’s who is committing these grand larcenies and these petty larcenies,” NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri told The Post.
He said 37 percent of those arrested for larceny have a pending felony case. “There’s not a lot of accountability when it comes to these crimes,” he said.
The chief said the NYPD is working with stores on prevention measures such as reporting incidents in real time and have poured foot patrols and other resources into business districts, especially Midtown.
Still Gotham recorded 3,709 retail theft complaints in August — the most ever in a single month.
These crimes are not always victimless.
On Sept. 8, an 11-year-old boy was slashed by a pair of shoplifters while defending his family’s Avenue D Mini Mart in Manhattan from thieves, police said.
A week later, police arrested Hector Diaz, 50, a neighborhood resident with at least 18 prior arrests for crimes ranging from drug possession to petit larceny.
“We absolutely have seen an increase in shoplifts gone bad,” LiPetri said, adding the number of such incidents in 2021 has spiked 18 percent from last year.
“Organized shoplifting has been around for a long time, but certainly not at the level we’re witnessing in New York and elsewhere,” said Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former NYPD sergeant. “The penalty if caught is low, but the reward is high. The Internet provides an easy way to fence items.
“This isn’t about bread like AOC [Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] will have you believe. It’s about opportunists taking advantage of decisions made in their favor thanks to the Mayor, City Council and Albany. It only gets worse from here.”
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