The serial thief who led the city in shoplifting busts last year with a staggering 46 arrests says he exploited his Queens neighborhood’s fears, lax store security and soft-on crime prosecutors, during an exclusive jailhouse interview with The Post.
Isaac Rodriguez, who made the paper’s Oct. 3, 2021 front page as the “Man of Steal,” pilfered a Jackson Heights Walgreens at will — at least 37 times last year — loading up on anything he could easily flip for cash, which he then quickly converted to heroin-cocaine speedballs.
Eyewitnesses? Never a concern.
“Where I come from, people mind their business, and if they don’t, bad things happen to them,” Sir Isaac Lootin’ said in the candid 50-minute video sitdown from Rikers Island. “I’m from the hood.
“Some employees would try to talk to me, but they would never touch me.”
The 23-year-old serial crook would walk in with a bag and fill it up with protein drinks, body lotion, toothpaste, soap and tampons. He then sold the loot on the street or to pawn shops for drug cash.
“Stealing was the only way I knew to get money fast to tend to my habit,” said Rodriguez, whose only “real job” was selling merch at the U.S. Open in Queens.
Nearly four dozen arrests and trips through Gotham’s revolving-door justice system did nothing to slow his stealing.
It only fed his ego.
“I may have got caught 46 times — I can’t tell you the number, but I got away a lot more than that,” he boasted.
Rodriguez was finally sentenced in January to serve until at least Dec. 19 in Rikers after shoplifting from a Walgreens in Corona where there was an order of protection against him.
Ironically, Rodriguez believes finally getting sent to jail might save his life.
With just under 200 days remaining on his sentence, Rodriguez says he’s clean and swears he’s a changed man. He said he intends to get his GED diploma and end his life of crime.
“This is a blessing in disguise. I know that I wasn’t going to be sober if I was still out there,” he said. “I would’ve died sooner or later.”
The city’s army of brazen shoplifters is a fairly new phenomenon — the product of reforms that have eliminated pretrial detention and cash bail for most misdemeanor and non-violent felonies, including grand larceny. Perps can be apprehended again and again only to be hit with nothing more than a court summons.
So far in 2021, petty and grand larcenies are up 42% and 51%, respectively, citywide compared to the same time last year.
In the 115th Precinct, where Rodriguez did the majority of his shoplifting, grand larcenies are up 99% from 206 last year to 410 now.
“It’s zero deterrence, and shoplifters take full advantage of it,” former NYPD sergeant and John Jay College professor Joseph Giacalone said. “You have politicians saying people are stealing food because they need to survive, but here’s a guy admitting that he’s doing it for drugs. Most of it is drug related.”
Socialists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have bashed the NYPD for catching shoplifters stealing baby formula and Pampers diapers, implying they must’ve been destitute and trying to care for their children.
Former NYPD officer Eugene O’Donnell said that’s a myth that needs a dose of reality.
“The truth is most people who are poor don’t steal,” he said. “Allowing widespread looting and theft from stores is not the answer to social inequalities.”