Today’s news:

Summer crime slowdown

More than nine months into 2008, crime in the 90th Precinct remains significantly higher than it was at this point last year. But its rate of increase slowed considerably over the summer – while crime is still bad, it’s not as bad as it was at the beginning of the year.

Overall, there have been 1,304 “major” crimes this year, compared to 1,153 at this point in 2007. Major crimes, which go into calculating a city’s crime rate, include murder, rape, robbery, felonious assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft.

In June, crime throughout the precinct was up 18 percent from its levels of June of 2007. Now, crime is up only 13 percent from its 2007 levels.

The biggest culprits in the uptick have been felonious assaults, which are up 20.7 percent from this time last year; and grand larcenies, which are up 23.6 percent from this time last year. Cops attribute the rise in grand larcenies – basically property theft without any force – to the area’s burgeoning nightlife scene and the number of area residents, many new to New York City, who don’t properly secure their belongings in bars.

But with the exception of auto thefts and rapes – a notoriously unreliable statistic because of the underreported nature of the crime – crime is up in every category across the board.

At last Wednesday’s Precinct Community Council meeting, Lieutenant Peter Fiorillo said the precinct’s primary goal is curtailing violent crime like felonious assaults and robberies, which are up 9 percent from this time last year.

Much of the precinct’s robberies are taking place in an area bounded by Manhattan Avenue to the west, Bushwick Avenue to the east, Maujer Street to the north and Flushing Avenue to the south.

“We’re getting hit right up the gut there,” said Fiorillo, referring to the area’s centrality in a precinct that stretches from Kent Avenue on the west to Scott Avenue on the east.

In the last month, however, robberies have dropped 12 percent from their levels from last year. Fiorillo said that the recent arrest of a group of teenagers from the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant who were committing crimes using a fake gun, along with the arrest another group of Williamsburg teenagers, helped the precinct close many open robbery cases.

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