By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Robberies and burglaries committed by teenagers have been increasing since the end of last year, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman reported at the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent meeting this past Tuesday.
“Trends [in robberies] that we were seeing at the end of last year carried over into the beginning of this year,” Hellman said.
Hellman said that while the precinct’s apprehension rate is “very good,” he wants the command to be more preventive so that the incidents don’t occur in the first place, part of which requires youth outreach. Robberies overall are up 36% for the year so far.
The NYPD will be rolling out a new youth program in March, partially in response to the increase in youth crime, which will work in conjunction with and under the structure of the neighborhood policing program that was implemented in the 13th precinct in October 2018.
Hellman noted that of the suspects who were arrested for robbery last year, 64% were under the age of 18 and 24% were residents of the Administration for Children’s Services facility on First Avenue, so the precinct will continue to work with ACS conducting outreach.
An attendee at the meeting asked if bail reform, which eliminated cash bail for a range of offenses, had anything to do with the increase in crime, and a representative from the NYPD’s legal department was at the meeting to clarify misconceptions about the new rules.
“There were genuine problems with the old system because it was unfair,” Michael Clarke, a managing attorney for the NYPD’s legal bureau, said. “People charged with the same crime [were being treated differently] depending on who could pay bail and that doesn’t really have an impact on public safety.”
Clarke added that there are still adjustments that need to be made and the NYPD is pushing to give judges the discretion to keep a suspect imprisoned if they are considered dangerous.
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg was at the meeting to request an update and more information about a previous incident in which a Peter Cooper Village resident was scammed by men claiming that her grandson needed money for bail and managing to steal more than $9,000 from her. The suspects attempted to take thousands more from the victim but she became suspicious and didn’t hand over the second payment. The suspects were caught on surveillance video when they went to meet the victim but Hellman said that as of this week, they have not been arrested.
“We do want to spread awareness about these scams that take place over the phone, and the elderly especially get taken advantage of,” Hellman said. “It doesn’t drive our grand larceny but we do monitor it.”