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Facecrook! Fort Greene grocer posts photos of alleged shoplifters online

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A Fort Greene grocer is trying to shame shoplifters into avoiding his store by embarrassing them on the internet.

Daniel Lee, the manager of the 24-hour Fulton Street shop Fresh Garden, gathers photos captured by his store’s 27 security cameras that depict people he claims have stolen and posts them on his website’s “Hall of Shame.”

But don’t worry — he’s not judging anyone.

“We’re not doing this to say, ‘Hey this person is bad,’ ” said Lee. “Every business owner’s goal is to try and reduce the amount of theft; this works as a deterrent.”

Lee uploads images from the Fulton Street shop, as well photographs from grocery stores owned by his parents including Green-Ville Garden on Myrtle Avenue, Greene Farm on Greene Avenue, and the restaurants One Greene and Lean Crust.

Signs in the store warn shoppers they’re being watched — and may become blog fodder.

“If you are caught on camera stealing your picture will be posted on our Hall of Shame,” reads the small sign at Fresh Garden. “By entering Fresh Garden you agree not to hold Fresh Garden accountable in any way for using your picture if you are caught.”

Lee claims the website — and the warning signs — helped cut down on theft of produce and snacks since he launched the Hall of Shame five months ago.

“We were losing about $400 a week of stuff from our location on Myrtle Avenue — now it’s about half that,” said Lee, who sometimes watches store security cameras via his iPhone and has chased people down the block to inform them that they’re going to have a web presence.

Petty theft is so common at the store that Lee claims he doesn’t always report shoplifting to police, electing to publish the pictures online instead.

He says he leaves the photos up even in the event of an arrest, but claims that he’s willing to sit down with anyone to discuss removing a photo — provided the person admits committing a crime.

Cops urge business owners to report all crimes, no matter the scale.

“If we don’t know about it, the issue is not being taken care of,” said a police source who noted that filing a report with photo evidence can make it easier to bust crooks the next time they come around.

And criminal justice experts said even though they had never heard of anything quite like the online Hall of Shame, the style of deterrence dates back to antiquity.

“The principle is a fairly common, it’s called shaming,” said professor Robert McCrie, an expert on urban crime and surveillance at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It has fallen out of favor, but it is very much part of our criminal justice system still. That’s why we have perp walks.”

Other stores around the borough tape photos of suspected thieves in their windows and office buildings have long kept pictures of banned visitors behind the front desk, but McCrie said Lee is an innovator in online shaming.

The practice of shaming has been around since the stocks of the Middle Ages, but the effectiveness of shaming has never been formally studied, McCrie said.

And he cautioned that while there is no expectation of privacy on the street or inside stores — businesses can photograph patrons as they please, provided they don’t use the photos for commercial purposes — Lee could find himself liable for defamation.

Still, Lee asserts the pictures he publishes aren’t of people he suspects of stealing — they show people he knows were stealing.

That said, the Wall of Shame isn’t all “Law and Order” — it’s part “Reno 911.”

Lee attempts to write humorous captions that accompany the photos he uploads.

“She must love tuna! She stole quite a bit of it,” reads one.

“Love the porn ’stach … doesn’t mean you can steal wine though,” reads another.

Lee said he is considering developing the technology more with a techie friend in order to make it marketable to other businesses.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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Reader Feedback

wednesday says:
These people are new to the nabe and are very very paranoid. They loose money because they treat shoppers like suspects.
I stopped shopping at Green Villa. I go to Mr. Coco - Much nicer - less paranoid group of people
Dec. 12, 2012, 12:42 pm
wednesday says:
correction: they lose money because they treat shoppers like suspects.
Dec. 12, 2012, 12:44 pm
wednesday says:
wednesday... also adds, Green-ville has not hired a single young person (minority or otherwise) from the neighborhood. I saw three tykes ask someone in the store if they were hiring. "No!"
Dec. 12, 2012, 12:50 pm
furtgo from Fort Greene says:
Regarding hiring from neighborhood, usually these Mom and Pop stores can't afford to hire non-family members, who will work long hours for a meal. Wonder if that applies here.
Dec. 12, 2012, 1:48 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
who cares? who goes to a bodega's website? Might as well post the pictures on Myspace!
Dec. 12, 2012, 3:23 pm
Barbara from Not Fort Green Thank God! says:
"Lee could find himself liable for defamation..."

Oh, he will, sooner or later! There are laws he must follow like all other stores. Why do you think they don't do that? LAWSUITS! Oh, he will learn, lmao!

LOL: Good luck Buddy. As long as you can PROVE they are stealing. Hope you don't post an alleged person that wasn't stealing or it's court day for you.

You can't just go destroying a person on the internet because you THINK they are stealing, or you "know" they are: you have to PROVE they are and they should be arrested and convicted first. You can't just go putting ppl's faces on the internet to drag them through the mud because you "know/think" they're stealing.

From what others have said, this guy is a bit paranoid because he's new to the area. I don't think his little sign will help either because it's not like someone signing a contract.

A lot of internet places are cracking down on ppl posting photos of others without their permission and all they have to say is they never saw his sign. In fact, I do believe it's Facebook that is making changes about ppl posting others faces without permission.
Dec. 12, 2012, 11:34 pm
Barbara from Not Fort Greene Thank God! says:
Sorry, meant Not Fort Greene, Thank God! lol
Dec. 12, 2012, 11:35 pm
Barbara from Not Fort Greene Thank God says:
Sorry, meant "Not Fort Greene, Thank God!" lol
Dec. 12, 2012, 11:36 pm
Topo from Bensonhurst says:
You have no expectation of privacy anywhere anymore. If you do not steal when you go in the store your photo will not be posted on the internet. If you want to sue go ahead. If you steal I don't think you will be. Remember you also have access to the internet. The guy gives you fair warning. You think they are paranoid. Well it is not your product that is being stolen. They work all day only to have someone rob them. I think you would have cause as well to be upset. As far as hiring from the neighborhood, why would they and why are they required or expected to? They go to business there and invest money. They owe the neighborhood nothing. What is this a replay of a Spike Lee film.
Dec. 13, 2012, 12:31 am
Topo from Bensonhurst says:
Hey Wednesday, who have you hired lately? You probably don't even have a business and probably never will. You are lucky anyone opens a store in that neighborhood. It has been a red line area for years. It still should be. A lot of sleeze balls there and petty crooks. The right thing to do is to help the guy out and do the "Right Thing" . But you wont beause you think the world owes you a living,
Dec. 13, 2012, 12:40 am
Topo from Bensonhurst says:
Yeah Barbara you have all the answers. You know how to get around every nook and cranny. You probably have had a lot of practice doing so.
Dec. 13, 2012, 12:41 am
Topo from Bensonhurst says:
Brooklyn as a whole is a real example of degradation in it's purist form.
Dec. 13, 2012, 12:43 am
Louis Laszlo from Yonkers says:
What if the "shamed" person happens to be innocent? Being accused and arrested of a crime, doesn't make one guilty. This business owner risks being sued for slander/libel if he turns out to be wrong.
Dec. 13, 2012, 2:11 am
thursday says:
He is paranoid and should set up shop somewhere else if he thinks everyone is a thief The $400 dollars he misses per month is probably due to people passing by and shopping elsewhere. I'm sure the green grocer (1 block away)
isn't having the same problem.
and @ Topo - bensonhurst is no prized nabe to live in either...I wouldn't suggest that middle of nowhere place to anybody.
Dec. 13, 2012, 9:42 am
Chris from Nearby says:
If the thieving scum weren't ripping off a poor guy trying to make a living, then such deterrents wouldn't be necessary.
I doubt the parasites stealing from him will be put off, but if it makes him feel better, all power to him.

As for employing people from the neighborhood, well it sounds like he has a nice pool of honest, upright citizens to choose from, doesn't it?
Dec. 13, 2012, 12:10 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
My local bodega employs a neighborhood guy to sell drugs from inside the store...does that count?
Dec. 13, 2012, 12:41 pm
Dan from Fort Greene says:
I just wanted to reply to some of the comments. First, I've lived in Fort Greene for more than 15 years. My parents have lived here for more than 25 years. I have seen this neighborhood transition from an area where cabs and taxis wouldn't come, to seeing it become one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The reason for the "Hall of Shame" is to act as a deterrent. These are not pictures of random people that we think may have shoplifted, the are the ones where we have pictures and video proof of the theft. We would never upload anyone's picture without being 100% sure of the crime committed. I am not trying to make people afraid of coming into the store, all we're trying to say is, don't steal. A very simple concept, but one that hasn't been followed by a certain few. 99% of the people that come to our stores are honest and we do everything we can to make sure we are providing what the neighborhood wants and needs. However, sometimes theft is so prevailant, there has to be something we can do. I've tried calling the police and waiting an hour to report a stolen granola bar. I've tried letting them go with a slap on the wrist and a "don't come back here". You'll see many stores post pictures of thieves directly in the store. We've done that as well, only to have the person come back and rip it down. As a business owner, and a local resident, my goal is to see our neighborhood grow and prosper.

Thank you
Dec. 13, 2012, 2:29 pm
Near Too says:
The few times I've been in Green-Ville (without passing it by all together) I was tempted to give the store clerk following me around my shopping list and a basket - to do my shopping for me. I must say that the grocer on the next block is a calmer, nicer choice.
Dec. 13, 2012, 2:42 pm
Near too says:
A smart business man/woman would have handled this problem without allowing a local news outlet to paint you as a distrusting merchant. I've lived in the neighborhood when this very store was a nasty greasy Italian/Greek hole in the wall. I've seen some improvement, but lining the avenue with shops that treat law abiding locals like they're suspects is not the answer. Sorry. I was put-off and take my business elsewhere, even if I have to drive.
I did it before, it is not a problem to do so now. After a day of working to get criminals off the street, I don't want to be treated like one when I shop. Good luck in your efforts.
Dec. 13, 2012, 2:59 pm
geo from kings grant says:
This guy can post whatever he wants and be as reckless as he likes so long as he has a liability insurance policy. It's a shame, but that's the way it now is. Defense lawyers working for insurance companies don't settle cases that should be settled. Instead they enrich themselves running up billable hours and putting the plaintiff through years of hell. The idiot lawyers you see on TV commercials asking you to call them if you're injured are NOT the reason insurance costs are skyrocketing. 12 year private investigator/detective agency owner geo
Dec. 13, 2012, 3:20 pm
6 Ways from SUNDAY says:
It sounds like "Wednesday" and "Thurdsday" (if not the same person) are some of the scum bag thieves that steal from the guy. If you aren't a person who steals things, THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, BOTTOM LINE. All the people with comments trying to bash the store owner- that just screams thief/scum bag to everyone else reading this. Please leave the country. Thanks.
Dec. 13, 2012, 4:26 pm
good for him says:
To those of you who think he can be sued for defamation ....... basically someone who sues has to prove (after lee presents the video to the court) that THEY DIDNT STEAL. that would be extremely hard to prove especially if the video seems to show them stealing.
Dec. 13, 2012, 4:31 pm
Near too says:
@ 6 ways from Sunday...
you obviously don't comprehend English well. I said I will take my business to the NICER grocer down the street and leave this paranoid merchant alone. I am not obligated to shop there and I won't. talk about scum, you sure sound quite dumb.
Dec. 13, 2012, 4:52 pm
Near too says:
@ 6 days I may show up 2 days from Sunday too!
Dec. 13, 2012, 5 pm
Hello? from Brooklyn says:
It's so funny how people here are quick to try and judge the store owner for doing the RIGHT thing. You're upset at the fact that he's exposing thieves??? If you ask ANY store owner if they would like a way to cut down on theft 100% of them would say YES! Get your priorities straight and realize that you're focusing your negative energy at the wrong person. Focus on the fact that these people are STEALING! Typical, how you run to help the ones who help bring this economy down. And for Near too, if you think that "nicer" store wouldn't love to put up a picture of YOU stealing, you've got another thing coming lol
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:06 pm
Sarah from Bay Ridge says:
AGREE with above comment!!
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:09 pm
fed up from f g says:
@near too...paranoid? what is it that you do? obviously owning a business is not one of them. do you lock your house doors? do you leave your car open and running? no. is that paranoia? this is not about being a nicer store, it's about protecting your business. I own 2 stores and applaud him for doing this. if I knew how to do this, I would do the same thing. I post the picture of every thief I catch in our store windows and it's full. everyone has a right to say what they want but @near too let's be smart about it ok?
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:30 pm
Jim Browsky from Clinton Hills says:

I like what he's doing! Kudos.
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:39 pm
Jim Browsky from Clinton Hills says:
@good for him

You bring up a very good point; and, I dont think any of these people have any disposable income, or income at all for that matter to sue for defamation of character; they'll just have to settle with the defamation!!! These guys are getting off really, really easy!!!! I mean,in some countries , you'd get killed for doing stuff like this!!

I have never heard of a "Tide thief"?! or "Tide..the new crack"?!
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:43 pm
Jim Browsky from Clinton Hills says:
These guys are getting off easy because in a "Red" state, they'd get shot by the owner!!!
Dec. 13, 2012, 6:47 pm
Eva G from Park Slope says:
@Near too

Why is he painted as a distrusting merchant? Have you ever walked into a store with senors that sound an alarm? Does that make that business distrusting? It sounds like you're the one that something to hide. Maybe it is best you don't shop there
Dec. 13, 2012, 8:09 pm
Kiwi from Fort Greene says:
As a local resident of fort Greene I think they are doing an amazing thing. They are revolutionizing crime fighting at a grassroots level. Not only are they helping our neighborhood, it will spread throughout Brooklyn. Kudos!
Dec. 13, 2012, 9:22 pm
Gil says:
Shoot or break scum bags hand where he wont do the tieving again.g
Dec. 14, 2012, 9:38 am
aj from atlanta ga says:
What a great idea. I hope it goes global. Wish they had done it to MY grandson here in Ga.
Dec. 14, 2012, 9:52 am
scott from long way away says:
I see a lot of people snapping at eachother about whether it's right or wrong and wether the store should hire from one neighborhood or another. Point 2-who cares, he hires who he wants. Point 1 though-huge difference on that one. No matter whether you think it's right or not it is NOT legal to post someone's picture online saying they are a theif and they steal if you are not also reporting them to the police. It IS called slander, and defamation. It IS illegal and it WILL cause you to become the subject of a liability lawsuit eventually, and if the person has not been reported to the police you WILL lose. Tread very carefully when you shame people, they have a right to defend their reputation and it will only take 1 or 2 of them who do for you to spend far more on legal defense than you EVER lost in theft. There are fiscally safer ways to combat crime, defaming people whom you weren't even willing to put in the effort to report to the police is not a good one. I hope Lee is not caught in a mess over this, it does sound like he's just at whits end trying to curb theft and has reached for a mechanism that, at it's best, is in a legal gray area.
Dec. 15, 2012, 5:44 am
Gina from Close by says:
@Scott from long way away

What is the difference between what he's doing and what pretty much every store that posts pictures of thieves in their window are doing? That means every thief that has their picture up in store window has a case? No way. Slander, by definition has to be FALSE. If he has video PROOF of the theft, you can't call it slander. The same goes for defamation. So, every person the tv has shown that has robbed, shot, or beat someone can now sue for slander? They won't. Why? Because they committed a crime. The owners would just counter sue, and then press charges for the crime lol.
Dec. 15, 2012, 11:38 am
One day from Sunday says:
Why don't this guy just engage the police and do the right thing instead of trying to be a "one man crime stopper?" He can cause himself problems.
There are two stores on either side of him - both have heavy foot traffic and they don't seem to have a thief problem. His shelves are stocked mostly with processed artisan foreign brands (ie: frommage de tete/salty meats and hard artisan breads) who steals this stuff? All of the produce and small items are in open view ....so how is this happening? I don't believe anyone is stealing. I think he is paranoid. Maybe he should check out his staff (if they are not his family). Posting a pictures is fine, as long as he is posting (not profiling) and have the person(s) arrested.
Dec. 15, 2012, 5:56 pm
Business owner from Brooklyn says:
Retail Small Business Loss Prevention: How Much Are You Losing To Theft?
by Joseph Hughes
1 Follower
Ads by Google

Theft Is Costing Retailers Big Money
It is no secret that theft losses are costing retailers big money year after year. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. Retailers lose an estimated $30 billion annually to theft. While most large retail corporations have full loss prevention departments to help combat theft and other losses, the average small business has neither the budget nor the realistic need for a full blown loss prevention department.

No theft going on? PLEASE ask any business owner if they've dealt with theft before
Dec. 15, 2012, 8:11 pm
former from ft greene says:
In the Asian culture, one of the ways to combat crime is to publicly shame the person, as social standing is considered important. This is probably why this shopkeeper thought this method was useful in lowering the shoplifting in his store.
March 5, 2013, 9:03 am
a gentrifier from Fort Greene says:
Someone above asked why is the owner painted as distrusting? I'll tell you why - because even though I am a young, white, professional woman, (apparently not their target thief audience) every single time I walk into his store I have clerks following me and overlooking me and what I am doing. YES, I do feel watched and treated like a thief and it's mega annoying!!! It is certainly one of the reasons I avoid this place. Laughed a lot when a guy above said he feels like handing down his grocery list to the store's spies err, clerks.

Btw - things are so overpriced here, he should post his own picture online as well. Tip: Target and Path are nearby and cheaper.
March 22, 2013, 1:10 pm

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