Flatiron gets in the holiday spirit with SantaCon

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SantaCon participants got creative with their costumes as usual, including a group with real pine trees in their backpacks. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Revelers donned their best Santa, elf and reindeer costumes for the annual SantaCon pub crawl last weekend, which started in the shadow of the Flatiron building this year. Neighborhood residents let their opposition be known when the Santas gathered on the plaza at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and while the NYPD said there was no record of an arrest, NBC News noted that a handful of the protesters were escorted out of the plaza by police.

The NYPD also noted that no drunk or fighting Santas were arrested as in previous years, and while many in the community were not convinced of their noble intentions, organizers seem to be attempting to clean up the event’s reputation. Organizers on the plaza this past Saturday could be seen picking up bits of trash while the crowd started clearing out by late morning and one Santa berated a photographer climbing onto a planter, yelling at her not to be disrespectful of public property.

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Police Watch: Woman arrested for hospital ‘burglary,’ Man arrested during SantaCon

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR HOSPITAL RAPE KIT ‘BURGLARY’
Police arrested 25-year-old Elaina Polanco last Wednesday at 1:20 p.m. after she allegedly swiped drug facilitated sexual assault kits, which are used to determine if a victim has been drugged in connection with a sexual assault, from a medical examination room. The incident occurred on July 14 and the District Attorney’s office said that it happened at Beth Israel. Polanco was arrested for burglary and petit larceny.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SANTACON ‘ASSAULT’
Police arrested 25-year-old Thomas Aiello for assault at the corner of Broadway and West 29th Street last Saturday at 9:34 p.m. Two witnesses told police that Aiello had been arguing with the victim, who was his cousin. The victim had fallen on the ground and Aiello allegedly picked him up off the sidewalk and tried to get him to walk.
After the victim got up, police said that Aiello picked up a garbage can from the corner and threw it towards the victim. Aiello grabbed the victim by the shirt and allegedly punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground because he was knocked unconscious.
Police said the victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital with a contusion to the back of his head. At the scene, Aiello allegedly said, “I had no choice but to knock him out.”

MAN BUSTED FOR ‘ASSAULT’ AT BETH ISRAEL
Fifty-year-old Charles Bruno was arrested for assault inside Beth Israel Medical Center at 281 First Avenue last Saturday at 12:57 p.m. Police said that Bruno had posed as a guest of a patient at the hospital in order to gain access to another patient that he was acquainted with.
Bruno allegedly pulled of the patient’s medical monitors, alerting nearby hospital security and staff. When security entered the room, police said that the victim was holding Bruno back and when security attempted to remove him from the room, Bruno allegedly fought with the guard, resulting in cuts on his upper and lower lip. Police said that the patient Bruno had come to see did not sustain any injuries.

MAN BUSTED FOR HOVERBOARDS
Police arrested 51-year-old Avery Simms for an unclassified misdemeanor in front of 25 West 27th Street last Thursday at 1 p.m. Simms was allegedly displaying and offering for sale three hoverboards in public for $350 each without a valid New York State DCA license.

SENIOR ARRESTED FOR ‘ASSAULT’
Seventy-year-old David Black was arrested for assault in front of 77 Seventh Avenue last Sunday at 11:03 p.m. Police said that Black got into an argument with the victim and punched him in the face, causing a minor cut to the victim’s left eyebrow.

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Santacon’s organizers deny it’s a pub crawl

Revelers at an East Village bar during a previous year’s Santacon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers at an East Village bar during a previous year’s Santacon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

Santacon, the annual event in which revelers stumble from one watering hole to the next while dressed as Santa, is apparently not a pub crawl at all.

So say the organizers in an open letter to local elected officials who on Monday, in their own letter, had asked the organizers to rein in the massive event, and publicly disclose its route ahead of time.

Santacon’s letter was signed by the group’s attorney Norman Siegel and nameless “NYC Santacon organizers,” who wrote, “Santacon is not a bar-crawl as you call it. Thousands of your constituents participate in and enjoy Santacon.”

The organizers have steadfastly remained anonymous. This letter, sent to the media via email, came from “Kristopher Kringle” and an interview with a head organizer in Gothamist would only reveal that he was a 40-year-old resident of the East Village.

The letter also claimed that the organizers had disclosed the route for this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday, to the NYPD.

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Hoylman: Santacon not cool enough for NYC

State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Sabina Mollot
State Senator Brad Hoylman has a message for the organizers of New York’s Santacon event: Go to Jersey. It’s just not cool enough for New York.

He made his view known after this year’s Christmas-themed crawl took place on Saturday, the same day as a march against police violence.

On Monday morning, when asked if he thought the event, which has developed a practically Grinch-like reputation for its past incidents of public urination and just general obnoxiousness, had become more subdued, he said “no.”
He added, “and that’s why I’m suggesting Jersey City next year.”

That said, Hoylman acknowledged that there were fewer troubling incidents this year than last year, when several Santas engaged in a boozy beat-down on Third Avenue and 16th Street. But he believed that rather than being due to any conscious changes in behavior, it’s that the popularity of the event is waning, as well as other factors.

“Last year it was the snow, and this year it was the Millions March. It was really in stark contrast to what Santacon’s about in terms of seriousness,” said Hoylman. “But I’d say also that Santacon has jumped the shark. It isn’t as cool or as fun as it used to be. I’m sure that has an impact too.”

After much back and forth between the event’s shadowy organizers and wary community leaders, this year’s Santacon took place in Manhattan, mostly in the 30s on the West and East Side. There were also a couple of stray participating venues in the East Village and Flatiron.

This was also after the organizers had promised to do more to rein in any rowdy participants by laying out some rules and communicating more with precincts and community boards.
So far, said Hoylman, it’s hard to predict what the impact has been. His own neighborhood, Greenwich Village, though not along the official event route, still saw its share of stumbling Saint Nicks.

“I witnessed some inebriated people in our streets in Santa costumes,” he said. “It’s a difficult thing to explain to your four-year-old.”

He added that he’d also been following the various social media accounts that chronicled the instances of Santas passed out or peeing.

A suggestion he’d made to the group previously was to keep the crawl family-friendly and booze-free. In response, he was told by one of the organization’s representatives that this would be taken under consideration. But Hoylman’s not holding his breath. “It’s largely about binge drinking; it’s a big pub crawl at the end of the day.”

Reveler's from NYC's Santacon

Reveler’s from NYC’s Santacon

Noting how the organizers have retained civil rights lawyer Norm Siegel and that they’ve also formed a 501C3 charity nonprofit, Hoylman said, “They’re trying to establish some sort of control and authority over the event. They claim to contribute to charity. As a 501C3, they’re going to be held to that. I’d like to see how much they in fact raised.”

In response, an event spokesperson, “Santa Claus,” on Monday told Town & Village the total amount wouldn’t be known until the organization’s accounting had been completed. As for just how many people participated this year, the spokesperson said, via email, that’s there’s no way to get an accurate count. An NYPD spokesperson, when asked the same question, said police wouldn’t give out that kind of information. He added that there were no Santa-related arrests that he was aware of.

The Satacon rep also answered “yes” when asked if organizers felt the event had become less raucous as a result of community outreach.

“We are residents of those same communities,” said the rep, “and this year we reached out to many community and civic groups. We continue to develop our dialogue with these groups. We encourage constructive feedback to our email address nycsantacon@gmail.com.”

Crime down this month in 13th Precinct, deputy inspector says

Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Crime has been down in the 13th Precinct in the last month and is also down overall for the year, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, the commanding officer of the precinct, told neighborhood residents on Tuesday.

Ehrenberg, who was discussing local crime stats at the most recent meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council, said that the 12 percent decrease is partially due to a decrease in grand larcenies, burglaries and robberies, but the latter two crimes have continued to pose a problem throughout the year.

“Robberies and burglaries are the key numbers to look out for,” he said, adding that felony assaults are also up this month.

He noted, though, as he has mentioned at meetings in the past, that the assaults aren’t much of a concern for the precinct since those numbers are primarily due to the hospitals in the area and the fact that officers are sometimes injured by people there who are resisting arrest, rather than random assaults on the streets.

Addressing a recent increase in assaults by delivery men, including an alleged attempted rape in Stuyvesant Town by a deli worker, the deputy inspector warned residents to take precautions when food is brought up to their apartments. He added that letting someone inside also gives them access to and knowledge of valuables that might be sitting out.

“There’s no reason to let people see what you have in there,” he said.

Like in a number of previous meetings, Ehrenberg made note of the surprising number of people who are victims of preventable crimes, like theft of unattended property.

“Pocketbooks on the backs of chairs and laptops left out unattended are being stolen. Leaving these things out in the open like that, you’re asking opportunists to come out and take it,” he said. “It’s easier to prevent this kind of crime than it is to do an investigation and solve it.”

He added that especially with the holiday season coming up, residents should be mindful of what they leave out and visible in their cars.
“Even if you went shopping and you’re just running into a restaurant to grab a quick bite, don’t,” Ehrenberg said. “We make collars on this kind of crime all the time but after we get them there are 20 more out there. We can’t stop that; it’s too many people.”

At one point the conversation turned to the annual SantaCon pub crawl, which is scheduled for December 13. The event has often been the bane of neighborhood residents where the crawl takes place due to public drunkenness by countless Santas and the deluge of vomit and public urination that usually comes with it. Inspector Ehrenberg, however, said that the precinct isn’t concerned about any problems with the event this year because aside from a group of brawling Santas whose fight was broadcast on YouTube, the weekend of the event last year was not especially problematic.

“We’re not expecting any issues (with SantaCon) this year,” he said. “Last year we put extra cops out and we’re going to have extra police for it this year, but I don’t think there will be any problems.”

The crawl typically starts somewhere in Manhattan, then makes its way to Brooklyn, though the route isn’t announced until shortly before the event. It was recently reported by Gothamist that the crawl was headed to Bushwick this year, but those plans have since been scrapped, amNY reported, and it remains to be seen where it may head.

Ehrenberg then honored two plainclothes police officers with the Cop of the Month award for their work that led to the capture of two gunmen last month. As Town & Village reported on the incident in October, a man was stopped in a rental car because police suspected that he was in possession of fraudulent credit cards. He and the other man in the car were found to be in possession of two loaded .40 caliber guns. Ehrenberg praised the officers’ work in tracking the men down.

“We have people around here in possession of guns like elsewhere in the city but thankfully we don’t have shootings like in other commands because of the work that these guys do,” he said.

Ehrenberg also noted at the meeting that as of this past Monday, the precinct is online. The precinct started tweeting under the handle @NYPD13PCT.
“A lot of us are new to the Twitter thing but it’s a learning curve,” Ehrenberg said. He added that residents are still better off calling community affairs at (212) 477-7406 or 311 about quality of life issues.

 

Burglaries up in 13th Precinct

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Lieutenant Mike Kotlyar, Community Council President Frank Scala and Executive Officer Frank Sorensen

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Burglaries have been on the rise in the 13 precinct in the last month, Executive Officer Frank Sorensen reported at the most recent Community Council meeting on Tuesday.

Sorensen filled in at the meeting for the commanding officer, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, who was unable to attend due to a family emergency, and said that while crime in general is flat for the year so far, burglaries on the East Side have increased, and most of them are due to unlocked doors.

“Three out of four of the victims had left their front doors open,” he said. “There are guys going around just trying doors and grabbing computers or anything else they can get.”

There were also recently three drug-related deaths over the weekend due to possible GHB overdoses. Sorensen said that GHB is a drug that is put into drinks and police are waiting for more information from the medical examiner. Oxycontin and other drugs were found in the apartment of one of the victims, Charlie Denihan, whose family owns a chain of Union Square hotels,

Police don’t expect foul play in any of the three incidents.

Despite the hard partying around Union Square over the weekend, Sorensen did note that St. Patrick’s Day, which fell on a Monday this year, was fairly quiet.

“Some in the past have been rough but maybe it’s just taking a backseat to SantaCon,” he said.

Detective Ray Dorrian added the quiet around the holiday also may have had to do with the fact that the holiday has fallen at the end of the week or on the weekend for the last three years before this one, which most likely made the crowds more rowdy.

Police Officer John Seidita, the traffic safety officer, was at the meeting to address the precinct’s efforts for traffic enforcement, in conjunction with the mayor’s Vision Zero plan. Officer Seidita said that they have been focusing on enforcement of motorized e-bikes, which were previously allowed due to a loophole in the law but have been officially banned since January. He encouraged residents to email him at john.seidita@nypd.org or call at (212) 477-2530 concerning complaints about e-bikes.

Captain Sorensen also introduced Lieutenant Mike Kotlyar, who is the new platoon commander that will be at the front desk from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. and can address problems from area residents at the precinct.

Hoylman takes aim at SantaCon though SLA

A Santa suit, or part of it, discarded at the corner of 23rd Street and First Avenue on Saturday (Photo by Mark Thompson)

A Santa suit, or part of it, discarded at the corner of 23rd Street and First Avenue on Saturday (Photo by Mark Thompson)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who recently got the organizers of SantaCon to agree to a few rules to prevent the public disturbances it’s become known for, said he also has another weapon aimed at the annual pub crawl: the State Liquor Authority.

Following the return of the event last weekend, Hoylman told Town & Village he thought another way to prevent participants from binge drinking was to report any bars that serve inebriated patrons to the SLA. He also thought one of the NYPD’s tactics, attempting to discourage bars from participating, was a good idea.

“The problem isn’t that Santas are coming to New York; the problem is the binge drinking,” said Hoylman. “So I’m having conversations with the SLA about the next steps we can take.”

The senator, who attended SantaCon on Saturday to observe how things were going, said he didn’t personally see any of the promised “elves” along the route who were supposed to manage the crowds and weed out any bad Santas. This was one of the things organizers had agreed to do previously, along with share the event’s route ahead of time with precincts and community boards. The organizers did do the latter though, said Hoylman, which he said seemed to help in terms of keeping the event mostly under control.

“The police were able to step up their presence, which seemed to have some effect,” he said. However, he called the event of a brawl between several St. Nicks on 16th Street and Third Avenue “a distressing incident.”

This year, countless Kris Kringles and other Christmas-themed costumed characters trudged through a snowstorm to head from bar to bar in the East Village and the Lower East Side before heading to Brooklyn. The event has grown over the years, despite backlash from residents of neighborhoods it visits and organizers’ protests about how its purpose is actually to raise money for various charities.

Organizers have also previously told T&V they agree with Hoylman that bad behavior reported at previous crawls, like public urination and vomiting, is unacceptable.

Last week, Hoylman mentioned he and other elected officials were going to meet with the organizers of SantaCon, who’d previously only identified themselves to him through first names over the phone. Hoylman has since said that meeting will likely take place soon after the New Year. A spokesperson for SantaCon said this week via email that there were in fact 100 volunteers dubbed “Santa’s Secret Service” on patrol, and that “We look forward to meeting with and discussing the future of SantaCon with the senator.”

The rep added that organizers are still figuring out how much money the event raised.

Santas in post-crawl brawl on Third Ave.

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

By Sabina Mollot

While SantaCon largely steered clear of the neighborhoods north of the East Village this past weekend, thanks to a widely circulated video on YouTube there’s evidence of a brawl between several Santas near Union Square. On Saturday at 8 p.m., the evening of this year’s annual pub crawl, the not quite jolly old St. Nicks got into a beat-down at the corner of East 16th Street and Third Avenue. The video shows half a dozen costumed men punching and kicking each other in the snow outside Joe Junior’s restaurant, before they eventually run or walk off.

According to Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg, the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, police had gotten a call about the fight, but by the time officers arrived, it was over.

“We are currently investigating that incident,” Ehrenberg said. “We’ve interviewed the person who took the video.” But, he added, “We have no victims in that no one’s come forward.”

As for whether or not he thought it was related to SantaCon, which ended earlier, Ehrenberg said, “A bunch of Santas beating the crap out of each other? Probably.”

Still, he noted, as far as the 13th Precinct went, the naughty behavior was an isolated incident. The precinct covers the north side of 14th Street up to 30th Street from the East River to Seventh Avenue. SantaCon’s route included the East Village and Lower East Side as well as parts of Brooklyn this year.

In response to the street fight, a rep for SantaCon told Town & Village, “No arrests have been reported to us. We have all seen the unfortunate fight video that took place outside of the suggested route and hours after the event had ended. It saddens Santa that these types of people put on Santa suits.”

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Still from a video showing a post-SantaCon beatdown on Third Avenue (Live Leak video via YouTube user Bofutli)

Hoylman to have sit-down with ‘Santa’

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year's SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year’s SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, a coalition of local elected officials led by State Senator Brad Hoylman were able to get the mysterious organizers of SantaCon to agree to a few policy changes to help turn the annual pub crawl from naughty to nice.

This has included the organizers providing the event’s route to local precincts ahead of time and promising to have “elves” on the sidewalks to help keep the roaming crowd of Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other Christmas characters under control on their way from one bar to the next.

Now, said Hoylman, the organizers have also agreed to meet with the politicians face to face following the event to review how things turned out. This, he noted is progress, considering that previously, the organizers had only spoken with the pols over the phone or through email with only first names provided.

SantaCon, which has grown in recent years due to social media, will take place this year on December 14. Hoylman said either he or someone from his office will be “observing” the event, which according to a report in the Daily News, will start at Tompkins Square Park, head to the Lower East Side and end up in Brooklyn.

As Town & Village has reported, officers from the 13th Precinct have previously said they are preparing for the event, due to crowds last year that were larger than expected.Critics, including local precincts and community boards, have complained that the event has become a nuisance due to crowding outside bars and rowdy, drunken behavior that’s included public puking and urinating.

Last week, a rep for the event, who would only identify him or herself as “Santa,” told Town & Village organizers have been trying to be cooperative and were in agreement with Hoylman about bad behavior among participants not being acceptable.

Other politicians in the coalition include State Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

 

 

Hoylman: It’s time to rein in SantaCon

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year's SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

Revelers outside an East Village bar at last year’s SantaCon (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who has recently called on the mysterious figures behind the ever-growing bar crawl SantaCon to start policing its crowds, said this week he was able to get the group to agree to some of his suggestions on achieving this.

Though the conversation he had with the group was over the phone with individuals who would only identify themselves by first name, Hoylman said it was a positive talk since the group said it would take some concrete steps to keep the event under control.

“We’re reserving our judgment,” said Hoylman on Wednesday, in reference to himself and a coalition of other local politicians who also want to see the mass gathering become less of a disturbance to the neighborhoods it visits.

Last Tuesday, the group penned a letter to urge the anonymous organizers to work with police and community boards on curbing the crowding and rowdy behavior seen at SantaCon events in recent years. SantaCon, an annual event, encourages participants to dress like Santa or other Christmas-themed, and even Hanukkah-themed characters, as they head down a route announced only shortly before the crawl via social media, and hit various pubs along the way. As it’s grown, however, the event has been widely criticized by residents of neighborhoods that are included, due to the crowded sidewalks and the obvious intoxication of participants.

Last December, a Town & Village intern covering the event reported having to dodge male and female Santas yelling, fighting and even puking as they stood waiting to get into various bars or sitting on bus stop benches in the East Village and Union Square. After getting a few photos, the intern, Allegra Kogan, and a friend got into a cab and, before they could exit at Union Square, had the door flung open by more drunken Santas who tried to force their way in.

“Even the cab driver, probably used to New York City antics, looked shocked,” Kogan said.

This year’s SantaCon is set for December 14, with the route so far unannounced.

In their letter, the pols said the route ought be made public in advance to give the NYPD and local businesses time to plan.

“While SantaCon is an open event, the organization still bears ultimate responsibility for its participants,” the letter from the coalition of politicians read. “Every organization must ensure that it is not encouraging lawbreaking, which in this instance includes public consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, public urination, as well as disorderly and overly aggressive behavior.”

Along with Hoylman, others to sign the letter were State Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh, Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

Hoylman also noted that in a previous attempt he made to reach out via letter to SantaCon in October, organizers did respond, but it was “in a very cursory manner.”

He added, earlier this week prior to the Tuesday conversation, “They said they were looking at some options to police themselves and work with the NYPD, but it wasn’t sufficient.”

However, after the conversation, Hoylman said volunteers for the group said they would be willing to work with local community boards, precincts and elected officials and let the precincts know the route of the event ahead of time. There will also be volunteers to help maintain crowd control on the sidewalk “as well as weed out the bad actors, or rather the bad Santas,” said Hoylman.

Part of the event’s problem, he was told, was that anyone can participate simply by donning a Santa suit. “So there’s this flash mob mentality.

“At this point we’re reserving our judgment to see whether they follow through on their promises,” he said.  “The challenge will be whether they can actually control the people who participate.”

As for the organizers’ decision to withhold their full identities, Hoylman said, “It was the best we could do at this point, so I remain skeptical. Given that they’re a loosely affiliated group of people who want to remain unnamed, we all need to be watchful.”

In November, as T&V reported, police officers from the 13th Precinct announced that they were gearing up for SantaCon, following the unexpectedly large crowds last year.

Prior to the phone call with Hoylman, when asked for comment on the elected officials’ concerns, a spokesperson for SantaCon, who would only identify himself as “Santa” to T&V via email, insisted that the organizers have been trying to be cooperative.

“Once again, SantaCon organizers are in agreement with much of what Senator Hoylman’s office has stated,” the email said.

“We want to return the event to one that values the creative and charitable aspects of SantaCon over the consumption and over-crowding it is known for.

“This year we are reaching out to community boards, police precincts, Parks Departments and governmental agencies to coordinate our event. We plan to remain in contact with them in order to mitigate the negative effects SantaCon may cause on any community it passes though.”

On the event’s website, organizers note that the real purpose of the event is not boozing, but raising money for charity. Last year’s event raised over $45,000 for Toys for Tots and collected 10,000 lbs. of canned food for the Food Bank of New York City. This year, participants are being asked to contribute $10, which will be distributed to several charities.

On the site, “Santa” added that, “Santa agrees that there is no excuse for inappropriate behavior. Public drunkenness, urination or rude behavior is not only prohibited by the stated rules of the event, but actively discouraged by the crowds of Santas themselves, who are for the most part, responsible, creative community-minded New Yorkers.”

13th Precinct sees spike in thefts, burglaries

Police also preparing for upcoming SantaCon pub crawl

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The 13th Precinct saw a 35 percent spike in crime over the last month, mostly in burglaries and grand larcenies. The stats were revealed by Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council on Tuesday. However, Ehrenberg, the precinct’s commanding officer, noted that part of the reason for the increases is because of the comparison to the low numbers last year due to Hurricane Sandy.

The increases in burglaries are mostly due to residential incidents and, noted Ehrenberg, there were no cases of forced entry in the residential burglaries that had occurred.

“They’re getting in through patios, roofs and doors from adjacent buildings,” he said, adding that the crimes are easier to prevent than they are to solve and he reminded residents to lock their doors as well as windows, especially if they lead to a fire escape or balcony.

There has been an increase in grand larcenies as well and an especially large increase in what the NYPD refers to as “picks and dips,” which is when someone is pick-pocketed or their property is left out somewhere and then stolen. Cell phones and wallets are the most commonly stolen items in these cases and Ehrenberg said that it isn’t necessarily the newest model of cell phones that are getting stolen so regardless of how new the phone is, residents should still be vigilant.

Because these crimes are also difficult to solve after the fact, Ehrenberg advised that people be careful with their bags while on the subway and walking down the street.

“The thing about the 13th precinct is that we have a lot of people on our streets and we have to rely on eyewitnesses for solving these crimes,” he said. “A lot of times, crimes like these are reported late because victims don’t notice until later that their property is missing. They say they remember later that they got bumped and maybe their bag wasn’t zipped. If there’s a big gap in the time between when it happened and when it’s reported, it’s hard to figure out who did it.”

The increases in grand larcenies have also been due to victims leaving their property out and having it stolen. Ehrenberg said that there have been three cases in the past month of this happening in the Starbucks on Union Square West, with all items worth more than $1,000.

“It’s like having $1,000 in cash,” he said. “I’m not going to leave that sitting out on the table so why would I leave a laptop out on the table? These items have to be treated like cash.”

Telephone scams, which are recorded as grand larcenies, have also been a problem for the 13th precinct, and Ehrenberg noted that it isn’t just elderly people who are being targeted but that most of the victims have been between the ages of 20 and 40. “Con Edison is not going to ask for cash or a prepaid card and if they come to your door you should always ask to see their identification,” he advised. “If you’re suspicious, call 911 about it.”

Meanwhile, residents at the meeting have already begun expressing concern about the impending arrival of SantaCon, the annual pub crawl that often results in excessive drunkenness in the neighborhood starting in the morning and escalating throughout the day, and which will take place on December 14 this year.

SantaCon revelers gather in front of an East Village bar at last year's event. (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

SantaCon revelers gather in front of an East Village bar at last year’s event. (Photo by Allegra Kogan)

A resident of Stuyvesant Town said that he looked at the website and noticed that there are already 12,000 people who have signed up to participate. Ehrenberg said that police are already planning on increasing their presence on that day and while they try to speak to bar owners and discourage them from participating, he noted that this is difficult since the bars do make money from the event.

“They started earlier than we were expecting last year and last year was ridiculous,” Executive Officer Frank Sorenson added. “Security will be ready earlier this year so we’re more prepared.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Ehrenberg awarded Officer John Dziedzic as Cop of the Month for arresting a man for mugging a 16-year-old deaf boy in October. The boy was on his way to school at PS 347 on East 23rd Street when he was mugged. Ehrenberg said that the officers needed the assistance of two interpreters to communicate with the boy for a description of the man but when they went out with the description, Dziedzic followed him and an arrest was made. He was charged with robbery as well as grand larceny for an incident last year in which he had targeted the same boy.

Last month’s community council meeting was full of residents from buildings on East 28th Street who had complaints about a homeless man who had been causing problems in the neighborhood. As Town & Village reported earlier this month, Ehrenberg said at Tuesday’s meeting that the man, Anthony Lawrence, had been arrested and formally indicted on two high charges, attempted robbery and assault. Ehrenberg noted that his next court date would be November 26 and cops have been working closely with the District Attorney’s office on the issue.

 

Letters to the Editor, Oct. 24

Hoylman: Santacon, please, curb your drunks

The following is an open letter from State Senator Brad Hoylman to the organizers of the annual pub crawl SantaCon.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to express my concerns regarding SantaCon and the effects it has on the  communities it visits. Each year local elected officials, community boards and local precincts are besieged by complaints as SantaCon passes through their neighborhoods.

While SantaCon may be a short-term boon to a select group of local businesses, the many adverse impacts it wreaks, such as vomiting in the streets, public urination, vandalism and littering, disrupt community members’ quality of life. I recognize that at any large event, a few bad actors may disrupt an otherwise orderly affair, but at previous SantaCons bad actors have hardly been the exception. As such, significantly more must be done to combat the neighborhood scourge SantaCon has become.

Further, no matter the behavior of the participants, the event has grown large enough to completely overwhelm sidewalks and public spaces, creating a public safety hazard for all.

I strongly urge you to work with the New York City Police Department in order to come up with a strong and effective plan to combat public intoxication and to ensure all participants are respectful of the neighborhoods they visit, as well as handling the overwhelming crowds associated with an event this size. In addition, I urge you make this plan available to the affected local Community Boards well in advance of your event so that they have time to comment and help shape it.
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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 17

Cheers for CompassRock

Cheers for CompassRock!
Or their diligence I shall speak!
They’ve repaired a village in a week.
The fliers and organized way they informed us gave a sense of peace and relief.
Our problems were numerous but not beyond belief.
And we really couldn’t make a fuss.
Lights in five, elevator and automatic gas in seven
Almost like being in a second heaven.
Heat and hot water in 10. Television in 21.
Boy, life was once again fun.
But landlines were always a stress.
They proved to be a mess.
The generators even stopped humming in the night.
Unfortunately still visible in the dawn daylight.
Another rarity to be found
Are tents in the playground.
Soon snow will come over the ground
And hide the destruction that did surround,
And spring will come back with its greens and flowers,
With its winds, breezes and frequent showers.
And all the bad things will be things of the past,
Because we know our misery doesn’t last.

N.J. Glaser, PCV

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