Today’s news:

Danger on the streets - Murder, rape, robbery and more on the rise

Major felony crime is inching up within the 70th Precinct, according to the latest statistics.

Murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft are up a little more than three percent thus far for the year as compared to this time in 2007.

The precinct has also seen its first three murders of the year within the past month.

Captain Peter Venice, who is the precinct’s interim commanding officer until a replacement for the recently retired Inspector Tom Harris is named, said one of the murders was a shooting and the others were due to physical force.

One of the physical force murders occurred during a fight and the other was a strangulation, he said.

Last year at this time, the precinct had one murder.

There has also been a nearly 22 percent increase in robbery with 173 reported incidents thus far this year as compared to 142 reported at this time in 2007.

Venice said many of the robberies involved Sidekick cell phones which are very popular with kids.

Also spiking was auto theft, which is up nearly 17 percent for the year with 56 reported incidents thus far in 2008 as compared to 48 at this time last year.

Grand larcenies are up about six percent with 249 incidents thus far this year as compared to 235 at this time in 2007.

Venice attributed the rise in grand larcenies to spikes in identity theft and unattended property.

Rapes are up as well, with 15 reported incidents thus far in 2008 as compared to 11 at this time last year.

On the plus side, burglary is down over 15 percent with 129 incidents reported so far this year as compared to 152 at this time in 2007.

Felony assaults are down more than 11 percent with 110 reported incidents thus far in 2008 as compared to 124 at this time last year.

Venice said shootings are also up for the year with seven reported thus far as compared to three at this time in 2007.

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