Today’s news:

Hot wheels: car theft up

Crime in the Park Slope vicinity, including Prospect Park, is exactly at the same level it was last year.

According to 78th Precinct police statistics, there have been 286 felony crimes reported thus far in 2009 and 286 incidents reported at this time in 2008.

Crimes included in these statistics are murder, rape, robbery felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft.

“Crime was up earlier in the year, but we turned it around in the last 10 weeks,” said Dep. Inspector John Argenziano.

Of these crimes, auto theft is up sharply, nearly 65 percent for the year with 28 cars stolen in 2009 as compared to 17 at this time last year.

Argenziano said this statistic is bolstered by a whopping 10 auto thefts in January, putting the precinct behind the proverbial eight−ball since the start of the year.

The thieves mainly take Honda Accords, and residents should remain vigilant about keeping their car doors locked, he said.

Argenziano also pointed out that last year the precinct had a very low number of car thefts, and the precinct is down nearly seven percent in this category from two years ago.

Burglaries are up about seven percent for the year with 74 reported incidents so far in 2009 as compared to 69 at this time last year.

Argenziano warned residents that with summer coming it is important to remember to close windows before leaving their residence or cars.

Perpetrators of this crime will seize opportunities that present themselves, he said.

On the plus side, felony assault is down nearly 30 percent and robbery has dropped 20 percent.

There have been 19 reported felony assaults so far this year as compared to 27 at this time last year; and 37 reported robberies compared to 46 at this time in 2008.

Argenziano said there has been a recent pattern of robberies on 7th Avenue, but police are working on the situation and he is confident the perpetrators will soon be caught.

There has been no murders this year and one reported rape.

With summer coming up, Argenziano said the precinct is assigning 36 cops to Prospect Park whereas there were only 12 or 13 assigned to the park in the winter.

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