New Year brings spike in crime

Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, January 15 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The beginning of the year has brought a spike in crime to the 13th Precinct, with an almost 14 percent increase in the last week due to a string of burglaries and robberies.

“The good news is that I made them stop the shutdown for the L train in anticipation of the increase in crime that we’ve seen lately,” Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman joked at the precinct’s most recent community council meeting on Tuesday, January 15.

Hellman, the precinct’s commanding officer, told neighborhood residents in attendance at the council’s first monthly meeting of the year that the last week was the most high-volume for crime since he took over the precinct at the beginning of last year.

In addition to the arrest of Bryan Lincoln, who was collared for three alleged attempted robberies in Union Square on January 11, Hellman said that two suspects who haven’t been arrested were responsible for four burglaries within a three-block radius in the precinct that same day, breaking into businesses while they were closed and grabbing cash from the registers.

“Those seven crimes in one day really pushed us over the top,” Hellman said of the incidents.

Hellman said that in addition to the four burglaries in the 13th Precinct, which took place from 18th to 23rd Streets between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, the two suspects are also wanted for seven other similar burglaries throughout the borough, including in Midtown North, Midtown South and the Upper East Side.

Despite the recent increases in crime, Hellman credited the recently-instituted neighborhood policing program for helping to keep crime down overall for the last few months and Captain Ernesto Castro, the precinct’s executive officer, announced at the meeting that meetings for specific sectors will be held starting this month.

The meeting for sector A, which includes Stuyvesant Town, is the latest scheduled meeting for each of the four sectors and will be held on Thursday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Stuyvesant Town community center at 449 East 14th Street. The meeting for sector D, which includes Peter Cooper Village, will be held sooner, on Tuesday, February 5 at 7 p.m. and will be held at 450 East 29th Street.

The first meeting coming up is for sector B, the southwest part of the precinct, which will be held on Thursday, January 31 at 7 p.m. in the Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street. The meeting for the northwest area of the precinct, sector C, will be held in the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar at 230 Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, February 26 at 7 p.m.

The 13th Precinct covers 14th to 30th Streets, from Seventh Avenue to the East River.

Castro also noted at the meeting that after a teenage girl was hit by a bike last week at the corner of East 15th and First Avenue, the precinct conducted educational awareness at the intersection to make sure that bicyclists know the rules that they have to follow. Castro added that the precinct is in the process of assigning a crossing guard to the location but in the meantime have assigned traffic officers at the intersection.

Traffic sergeant Brittany Hawkrigg said of the incident that the girl wasn’t seriously injured and that the cyclist appeared to be using the bike lane, but the initiative was a precautionary measure to make sure that cyclists have all the necessary information to safely ride on city streets.

Borough President Gale Brewer also dropped by the precinct’s first meeting of the year the check in with the neighborhood and update residents about what her office is working on for the new year. Brewer had spent a good part of the afternoon at the MTA’s emergency L train meeting and emphasized that the dust from the L train construction is an important consideration in the plans.

“We all remember the dust after 9/11 so that’s a very important factor for this project,” she said. Brewer noted that her office focuses primarily on zoning and land use so one of her major priorities is the Two Bridges development project in Lower Manhattan, but she said that she is also focused on the citywide priority of preserving mom and pop shops.

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