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Muggers and thieves were having a field day last year in Brooklyn, which saw a nine percent jump in robberies in some areas, according to recently released NYPD statistics.
Year-end statistics show that precincts in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, which protects the western end of Brooklyn from Carroll Gardens to Coney Island, suffered the brunt of the robbery increase, while Patrol Borough Brooklyn North saw a one-percent dip in robberies.
As of December 28, 2008, Patrol Borough Brooklyn South had handled 3,684 muggings and robberies – 309 more than the 3,375 they sustained in 2007.
Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, which protects residents in Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and other areas, had investigated 4,086 robberies – decidedly more than their southern counterparts but still 47 fewer than the year before, statistics show.
Most of the borough’s precincts ended the year with an increase in robberies, the worst command being the 62nd Precinct in Benonhurst and Bath Beach, which saw a whopping 27 percent jump. The 62nd Precinct was followed by the 63rd Precinct, where cops saw a 21 percent increase in robbery reports. The 63rd Precinct protects residents in Flatlands, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Mill Island and Mill Basin.
The precinct with the smallest robbery increase was the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg, which saw a three-percent jump in robberies.
Of all the precincts in Courier-Life Publications’ coverage area, only three showed reductions in robberies — the 78th Precinct in Park Slope, which celebrated a nearly 15-percent drop in robberies in 2008, the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint, which saw an 18-percent fall in robbery and the 76th Precinct in Carroll Gardens, where 31 fewer robberies took place (from 125 in 2007 to 94 last year).
While this borough-wide robbery plague comes amid an unsettling fiscal time for the country, high-ranking NYPD officials do not believe that the growing recession has turned everyday citizens into criminals.
Rather, it’s the desire to acquire all the fancy new gadgets people — especially teenagers -- have that are driving robbery statistics in the borough.
“We’ve seen a lot of crime against juveniles committed by juveniles,” explained Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, which saw a 12-percent jump in robberies in 2008. “A lot of these kids have a ‘must have’ mentality when it comes to electronic devices. [Teens] are stealing iPods, cell phones, things like that. It is a concern.”
“Electronics still drive our robberies,” explained Chief Joseph Fox, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, who noted that robberies in the borough dropped by six percent over the last two years. Brooklyn South also saw a 19 percent increase in robbery arrests in 2008, he said.
“Both the victims robbed and the people who rob them tend to be younger, which tells us that it’s both driven by trends as well as crimes of opportunity.”
“When we go to a bank to pull money from a cash machine, we take out $200 and immediately put it in our pocket. Then we look around to make sure no one’s watching before we go outside,” explained Lt. Marc Diaz, a pattern identification specialist for Patrol Borough Brooklyn South. “Today, teenagers are carrying around $200 to $300 items with them at all times and pay no attention to how they’re carrying them. They have them out on display for everyone to see. If they’re not holding them, they’re texting away on them. We believe that it gives the appearance of an easy crime and it’s creating an attraction for them.”
In order to quell the jump in robberies, Chief Fox has authorized all of their precincts to push cell phone and iPod etching — which would make the marked electronics less desirable to thieves — and instruct teens on how to better secure their prized possessions as they go to and from school.
Inspector Corey Pegues, the commanding officer of the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush — which saw a 17-percent jump in robberies last year — said that his officers have kicked off a series of “sidewalk seminars” to promote Chief Fox’s goal.
“We set up a table right on the street in high profile areas like Church and Utica avenues and talk to people how they can safeguard their purses and electrical items,” he said. “We held one of them outside a T-Mobile store one time and low and behold we actually arrested someone trying to rob the store.”
“That shows these plans seem to be working,” he said.
While the increase in robberies was a major concern, the number of burglaries, assaults and car thefts all dropped in 2008, by four percent, nine percent and nine percent respectively.
In Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, burglaries in the command fell by just under one percent while assaults and car thefts fell by 10 percent and seven percent, statistics show.
Overall felony crime in Brooklyn North fell by just over three percent. Brooklyn South fell slightly behind with a 2.6 percent drop in crime, officials said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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