New York Post
Two-bit ice cream thieves are enraging billionaire John Catsimatidis.
The supermarket magnate has issued a $5,000 reward for information on a gang of crooks swiping ice cream from his stores and then peddling it on the cheap to bodegas, which illegally resell it.
“They keep stealing it because it’s an easy item to sell,’’ Catsimatidis groused to The Post on Thursday, adding that he suspects most of the thieves are junkies.
“The bodegas buy it, they encourage it,’’ he added.
A Bonnie-and-Clyde duo coolly hit up Catsimatidis’ Gristedes store in Chelsea on Tuesday, stuffing 80 cartons of Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream into four bags before making for the door.
Police said the man and woman swiped 49 cartons of Häagen-Dazs and 31 of Ben & Jerry’s at the Ninth Avenue location.
The thieves were foiled when workers chased them and grabbed their frozen loot as they fled.
Store manager Robert Montalvo said he and two clerks cornered the “drugged-out-looking” pair at the exit.
“The guy said, ‘We got this from another store.’ I’m like, ‘Really?’ ” Montalvo said.
Police said the theft fits a citywide pattern.
Sources have said the ice cream — which retails for $6 a pint — is stolen by low-level creeps and resold to bodegas for as low as 10 cents on the dollar.
There have been more than 250 ice cream theft complaints this year, and 130 arrests.
The thefts are also a public health risk, since the ice cream often melts before bodega bootleggers are able to refreeze it, making the cartons a breeding ground for germs.
At a bodega near the Chelsea Gristedes, The Post documented pints of Ben & Jerry’s selling for a discounted $5. They were covered in frost, suggesting freezer burn from being refrozen.
“[It] looks like it’s been out in the sun for an hour and refrozen,” said Andy Chung, 22, a waiter who works nearby.
Chung said he loves ice cream and often buys it at bodegas to save money — but the theft at Gristedes has changed his mind.
Sam Nowak, a student, agreed that stolen ice cream is a turnoff.
“I try to be conscientious about my purchases. I’m all about fair-trade coffee, humanely farmed poultry, stuff like that . . . I’m not going to buy it,” he said.