A man was caught on video allegedly stealing about a dozen steaks from a Manhattan Trader Joe’s on Tuesday morning.
The suspect — now wanted by cops — was at the grocery store’s East 14th Street location around 8:30 a.m. when he was caught on footage strolling out the door with 10 packages of meat piled up in his arms.
Two helpless Trader Joe’s staffers had followed the man up an escalator leading to the store’s exit but only stopped him from taking a shopping basket outside – not the meat, the video shows.
“They basically just tell us not to do anything, just let them go,” a Trader Joe’s worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, later explained to The Post.
“We get in trouble if we do anything… It don’t bother me, I’ve been working here for two years, I see it happen everyday. After a while, you just don’t care.”
Trader Joe’s did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.
Police were called to the grocery store, and the incident is now under investigation by the NYPD’s robbery squad, law-enforcement sources said.
Earlier this month, steak and fish retailers told The Post that shoplifters have been stealing pricey grocery items from their shops and reselling them to unscrupulous bodegas in other parts of the city, forcing them to jack up their prices or opt out of selling the gourmet items all together.
Retail-theft complaints citywide have jumped 36 percent from 2020 to 2021, the NYPD has said.
As for Tuesday’s incident, a Post photographer questioned the suspect about what he was doing, and the man initially said he’d paid for the items but then claimed that he was homeless and had stolen the food to eat, the video shows.
“I’m gonna eat it,” the man says in the video. “I’m f–king hungry.”
As the man walked away from the Trader Joe’s with the cumbersome booty in tow, he had difficulty holding on to the packages and at one point threw them into a large, black garbage bag that was already in use by a street sweeper, the video shows.
“My man! My man! What the f–k you doing? Give my bags back!” the street sweeper said as he chased after the man.
The suspect claimed to the worker that he’d replace the bag he swiped, but the street sweeper shot back, “I don’t give a damn!” and the man was forced to unload the meat and took off before cops arrived.
If people had enough money for food, they wouldn’t have to steal it. The system is fundamentally broken.
And we decided not to post the video or screenshots to give the man more time to enjoy his steaks before he gets identified. They’re just steaks.