Capt. Jack Lewis, commander of the 76th Precinct
Robbery is continuing its alarming spike in our fair pocket of brownstone Brooklyn. Defined as the taking of property with use of physical force, robbery was up 26 percent in 2011 over 2010, said Capt. Jack Lewis, commander of the 76th Precinct, at the January police community meeting on Tuesday night. The 76th precinct covers Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Red Hook and much of Gowanus.
Robbery is up 67 percent here over a two-year period, according to NYPD statistics. Citywide, robbery is up 6 percent.
Grand larcenies—thefts of property valued at $1,000 or more where no force is used—is up 16 percent. Shoppers at Ikea and Fairway leaving purses in unattended shopping carts seems to be a primary culprit.
The good news is: Crime is still relatively low in NYC and certainly in the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill/Red Hook area, where 124 robberies were reported in 2011, compared to 100 in 2010.
The irresistible draw of the iPhone is fueling the robbery surge, Lewis said. The police didn’t have numbers for how many robberies targeted iPhones, but Lewis said it was a significant percentage.
Walking while texting continues to put a big bulls-eye on the victim’s head.
The thieves, for the most part, are teens who gang up in groups of two or three to grab the phones. They hail mostly from the Red Hook houses and the Gowanus houses, and most of the robberies take place near those low-income developments, or as folks are walking home from the subway, or leave a bar or restaurant at night, Lewis said.
“We were hit much harder then the rest of the city,” Lewis said. “These young individuals who just came of age as criminals… I know them well, I know their parents very well, their siblings.”
The police are trying to follow up with families and working with the Red Hook Juvenile Justice Center, which attempts to keep youth out of jail, to direct the kids away from crime, Lewis said.
“A lot of precincts have this problem,” Lewis told South Brooklyn Post. “Here, we have the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in a very close area.”
The NYPD last month arrested dozens of bodega and car service owners and employees for buying stolen iPhones, with the hopes of diminishing demand for the stolen property.