Billionaire Issues Reward For Scoop On Ice-Cream Thieves

I scream, you scream, we all scream f -- thieves!! At least, New York City grocery stores do.

The city's ice-cream pints have fallen victim to more than 250 reported robberies this year, according to the New York Post.

The crooks have achieved such notoriety that billionaire John Catsimatidis, who owns Manhattan grocery chain Gristedes Foods, has issued a $5,000 reward for information on the criminals.

The thieves, Catsimatidis said, swipe ice cream from his stores and give it to bodegas, which resell the ice cream illegally for a lower price.

“They keep stealing it because it’s an easy item to sell,’’ he said. “The bodegas buy it; they encourage it."

On August 10, a man and woman stole 80 cartons of Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from a Gristedes store, stuffing the loot into four bags before running out.

Someone in the store took a picture of one of the thieves on their way out.

They didn't make it far; workers chased the bodega bandits and took back the ice cream. Store manager Robert Montalvo said he got a look at the duo before they fled.

“The guy said, ‘We got this from another store.’” Montalvo said. "I’m like, ‘Really?’"

He added that they were "drugged-out looking."

At a bodega near the Gristedes, The Post found pints of Ben & Jerry's going for $5, $1 lower than the retail price.

Police, who have made 130 arrests for ice-cream thefts this year, said the incident fits the citywide pattern.

While bad for business owners, the thefts also pose a health risk. Ice cream often melts on its journey from grocery stores to bodegas before it's refrozen, which causes germs to breed in each pint.

The pints in the nearby bodega, according to The Post, were covered in frost, suggesting they'd gotten freezer burn.

“[It] looks like it’s been out in the sun for an hour and refrozen,” said Andy Chung, 22, a waiter who works near the bodega.

Paying a dollar less for pricey ice cream is an enticing deal, but no one likes their ice cream... icy. The fact that it's stolen, others say, is also a buzzkill.

“I try to be conscientious about my purchases," said student Sam Nowak. "I’m all about fair-trade coffee, humanely farmed poultry, stuff like that ... I’m not going to buy it,” he said of the smuggled ice cream.