By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Overall crime has seen a 20 percent decrease in the last month of summer in the 13th Precinct although Commanding Officer Brendan Timoney stressed that community residents need to be aware of some recent crime patterns, including apartment and office burglaries and a car theft ring.
Timoney reported the stats at the first community council meeting after a summer break this past Tuesday, a day after the former captain was promoted to deputy inspector.
Timoney noted that in terms of general crime, the summer months have seen a small spike in robberies and although burglaries haven’t increased, he said that the incidents seem to correspond to the city’s bouts of warm weather.
“There have been lots of fire escape entries where they’re getting into apartments and stealing jewelry,” he said. “They’re crimes of opportunity. They’re only in there a couple minutes then they’re out the door.”
Timoney added that a man arrested for one of these fire escape burglaries this summer was busted after the officers secured the area and were able to catch him when he was trying to leave the building.
The two officers who apprehended the thief had been honored with the Cop of the Month award for September but since they were both on vacation at the time of the meeting, they will be presented with the award in October.
In addition to the residential burglaries in the area, Timoney noted that commercial burglaries continue to be a problem for some of the businesses in the neighborhood, and that building doormen should be aware of not letting in people who don’t belong.
“Doormen have to provide security and should be stopping people coming in that they don’t recognize,” he said. “There are other people are coming into offices and stealing laptops and electronics.”
Car and motorcycle thefts have been increasing throughout the summer as well and while Timoney noted that a crew out of Brooklyn that had been stealing cars in the neighborhood had been arrested recently, he said that another group of people out of Newark have been a problem lately.
“All of the stolen cars that have been recovered in the last month have shown up in Newark,” he said. “If you bring your car to a garage, tell the attendants to make sure they don’t leave the keys inside the car. Lots will sometimes leave the keys in to move them around easier, but then other people can walk into the garage, no one sees them and they drive off with the car.”
Theft of unattended property, a common occurrence in the area, continues to be a problem for the precinct. Prior to the summer break, there was also a string of cell phone snatching by thieves riding past victims on bikes and taking their phones out of their hands. Deputy Inspector Timoney said that there haven’t been any arrests in those cases partially because the victims couldn’t identify the person who snatched their phone because they never saw the thief coming.
Bicycles themselves, always a popular topic at the meetings, have also long been a problem, especially with delivery people of neighborhood restaurants flouting the rules. Cyclists at the meeting said they have also noticed that Citi Bikers are often responsible for some of the dangerous situations.
“I see people texting on Citi Bikes and riding them while not using their hands,” one resident said.
Timoney said that the precinct has been working with the company to make sure riders know all of the rules.
“We talk to Citi Bike about the rules and send out crime prevention officers talk to people at the docking stations about the different rules and regulations,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also fielded a number of questions about the homeless population in the area, as complaints have been increasing since a woman was raped by a resident of the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at the Turnmill Bar on East 27th Street in April.
The manager of a SoulCycle location at West 27th and Broadway voiced concerns about some of the problems that nearby shelter residents have been causing, including attempted car break-ins and selling drugs.
“We have officers assigned at the 30th Street men’s shelter but also at the Bowery Residents Committee (shelter on West 25th Street),” Timoney said. “We have officers assigned to that area at least four or five days a week. A lot of these guys have illnesses. We’re also trying to help these people get what they need but at the same time we want to make sure they’re not harassing residents.”
Detective Ray Dorian said that the Department of Homeless Services has also told the NYPD that it is working on various alternative solutions.
“DHS is looking at outdoor spaces to convert and make it nicer to provide a more attractive spot so (the shelter residents) aren’t hanging out and bothering people in the neighborhood,” he said.