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Target to close 9 stores — including NYC location — citing ‘theft’ and employee ‘safety’

Target said it is closing nine stores in major markets across the country — including its Harlem location in New York City — because of rampant theft and violence.

“We cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests, and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” the Minneapolis-based discount retailer said in a Tuesday statement.

The stores will close on Oct. 21 and span four states, including New York, which will lose its East Harlem location at 517 E. 117th St.

The other locations to be shuttered are in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Ore. — all cities that have been struggling with an epidemic of aggressive organized retail theft that has ramped up over the past few years.

A Target logo on a store.

Target’s announcement follows on the heels of another massive round of store closures including Rite Aid, which filed for bankruptcy protection and is likely shuttering up to 500 stores in the coming months, according to reports.

Target said it invested “heavily” in strategies to stop the the shoplifting in its stores, adding more security guards and “theft deterrent tools” but to no avail.

“Despite our efforts, unfortunately, we continue to face fundamental challenges to operating these stores safely and successfully,” the company said.

A Target employee scanning items at check-out.
Getty Images

Target was among the first major retailers to publicly blame crime for a deterioration in its financial results, with its chief executive, Brian Cornell, sounding the alarm in May when he said the company would be closely monitoring the “safety” of its employees as it weighs its options.

In August, Cornell said during an earnings call that “violence and threats of violence” surged 120% during the first five months of the year.

“Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Cornell said at the time. “Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”

Target said 96 stores in its chain of more than 2,000 remain open in the greater New York City market, employing more than 20,000. It continues to operate locations in Manhattan in Times Square, Union Square, Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side and Washington Heights