By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police have caught two teenagers who were wanted for robbing an elderly woman outside Stuyvesant Town earlier this month. Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman told neighbors that the pair had been caught during the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent meeting this past Tuesday.
Hellman said that the victim, who is in her 70s, was walking to her apartment on East 19th Street between Second and Third Avenue on Saturday, May 11 around 10 p.m. when the 17-year-old boy punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground before stealing her bag.
“We went to see her and she had a significant black eye,” he said. “Luckily nothing was fractured. I spoke to the woman when we went to visit her and she said she walks around the neighborhood all the time and has lived here for 20 plus years, sometimes walking around later at night. It really hurts me to think that people can feel unsafe like that. We don’t have that often but it’s very concerning.”
The teens were caught at the corner of First Avenue and East 14th Street on Saturday, May 18 around 1 a.m. by plainclothes officers who were patrolling the area, Hellman said.
Police said that in an attempt to prevent her boyfriend from being arrested, the 16-year-old girl lunged towards a gravity knife that the other suspect had dropped on the ground. Police said that she also flailed her arms and was actively resisting arrest. The girl reportedly bit one of the officers, causing pain, redness, swelling and bleeding and police said that while she was resisting arrest, she also dropped a kitchen knife that she had on her. She also allegedly kicked a wall inside the 13th precinct, causing damage.
Hellman said that the boy and his girlfriend were hanging out outside Gracefully on First Avenue prior to the robbery.
According to police, the teens are both from Brooklyn and explained their presence in the neighborhood as related to the boy’s father having a job in the area.
The boy was charged with robbery because he had been connected to another robbery of an elderly woman in Brooklyn but Hellman said that the girl was only charged with assaulting the officer who stopped them, as well as possession of a weapon. The names of the teens are being withheld due to their young age.
Hellman said that although this incident was unusual, the number of robberies has increased by 100 percent over the last 28-day period, with 12 this past month compared to six during the same period last year. But he noted that 11 of those robberies are closed to arrest and there is a warrant out for a suspect in connection with the last incident.
There have also been 17 felony assaults, which is a slight increase from last year, but Hellman said that the majority of those are against police officers making arrests, or other uniformed officers and New York State employees, rather than random attacks on the street.
Shoplifting has also been a problem for the precinct, with a number of shoplifting incidents that become elevated to burglaries or robberies, increasing the amount of serious crime in the precinct.