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October 2, 2014
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News + Views

Robberies Down in November

By Lisa M. Collins

Teenagers make up majority of robbery arrests in South Brooklyn.
Photo by Joshua Kristal

When South Brooklyn Post launched on Nov. 2, we reported that robberies were up 40 percent from last year in our low crime area of the city, including the neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Beorum Hill, Gowanus and Red Hook.

But there’s good news: November saw a big decrease in robberies—defined as the taking of property from a person with some use of force.

Six robberies were reported to the South Brooklyn 76th Precinct in November, compared to 17 for the month of October.

“I think the decrease is due in large part to the number of arrests we are making,” said Capt. Jack Lewis,  Commander of the South Brooklyn 76th Precinct. Arrests are up 137 percent from last year, Lewis said. Often the robbers are collared right after the crime, when victims are quick to call 911, Lewis said.

Lewis calls it “old-fashioned police work.”

“The officers are very aware of what’s going on and they are committed to solving the problems,” Lewis said. “It’s the hard work of the men and women in uniform at the 76.”

Though South Brooklyn is still the lowest crime precinct in Brooklyn, and one of the lowest citywide, robbery here in 2010 is up 44 percent over last year. The numbers are stark because last year’s stats were very low.

Most of the arrested and accused robbers are teenagers and pre-teens. Lewis broke down the stats for us: For the year to date, of 53 robbery arrests through Nov. 7, 40 were male and 13 female. Thirty-five were 19 or younger, including 23 between the ages of 11 and 14. Another 12 were between 16 and 19.

During the month of October, there was a rash of young teen girls committing robberies, but that appears to be “a statistical anomaly,” Lewis says.

When children are committing crimes, the police follow up with families, schools and the kids themselves, Lewis said.

“Some of the cases don’t warrant incarceration, when it’s the first offense. We do anything we can to ensure these kids don’t commit further acts of violence. Any time we get a child, even if we catch a truant playing hookey, we bring them into the precinct and follow up with the family and the child.

“If we arrest someone who is less than 19, we visit them at school and at home and ask the family if there’s anything we can do to prevent them from going in that direction,” Lewis said. Often, families are at first hesitant, but then often want to work with the police to keep the kids out of trouble, Lewis said.

“They want to do whatever they can,” he said.

There are exceptions, and sometimes arrestees come from a family with many members who’ve been arrested for serious crimes.

“In those cases we let the kids know they are no longer anonymous,” Lewis said.

Officer Vincent Marone, spokesman for the 76th South Brooklyn Precinct, said Lewis is “playing a chess game,” and strategically placing officers in areas that are known to be robbery hotspots.

“Capt. Lewis is doing something right. He’s managing people good. We’re keeping an eye on people.”

Lewis  says quality of life summonses are also up, including tickets for urinating in public, bikes on the sidewalk and that sort of thing, “interacting with bad guys before they do the crime.”

The cases for November included a woman in the vicinity of the Ikea, with a child, who was robbed at 5 p.m. by two females and male, who ran off with her purse.

Another happened at 5:30 p.m. at Bond and Carroll. A group of four girls and boys hit a man with a stick and robbed him. The victim called 911 and “four arrests were made almost immediately,” Lewis said.

Lewis urges people to call 911 immediately if they are the victim of a crime or notice suspicious behavior, such as someone looking into windows. The 76th Precinct has a good track record of catching perpetrators when 911 is called immediately.

December is here and Lewis said South Brooklynites need to stay alert. Staying aware of your surroundings plays a huge role in preventing crime, Lewis has said.

“The holiday season is coming and people should really be careful and secure their valuables,” Lewis said.


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