Repeat Burglar Arrested Again After Targeting Empty NYC Stores

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A man who was arrested for burglarizing a New York City store this week also broke into another last month and an ice cream shop down the same street.

Police say Robert Bartlett was taken into custody on Tuesday, a day after he allegedly broke into rag & bone clothing store in SoHo and left with the cash register. Bartlett was seen on surveillance camera wearing the same clothes he wore when he allegedly broke into a beauty store on Houston last month.

Captain John O'Connell of the 9th Precinct says Bartlett is a serial thief with 12 prior convictions. He was released in his last arrests because burglary is not a violent crime.

With stores being closed for business due to the coronavirus pandemic, police say offenders like Bartlett are using that as an opportunity to break in.

"It’s a quick hit, 1-2 minutes, whatever he can get in his pocket," O'Connell said.

Authorities say since Bartlett was released back in February, he was arrested seven more times -- six of those were for commercial burglaries.

While major crimes in New York City saw a whopping decrease for the month of April compared to 2019, the city has seen a 169% increase in commercial burglaries (564 compared to 210), according to the latest NYPD statistics.

"Burglary is a crime driven by recidivism, and if these recidivists continue to prey on new Yorkers with no deterrent as far as incarceration, this will only continue," said Chief Michael LiPetri with the NYPD Crime Control Strategies.

"Most of those burglary arrests came post-pandemic where people were forced to close their stores and layoff workers," LiPetri said.

He says it is possible Bartlett could be released again because of bail reform and the pandemic.

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