Serious felonies in New York City rose substantially last week compared with the same seven-day period in 2012, underscoring how superstorm Sandy dragged down crime statistics a year ago as residents struggled after the storm, according to the latest data released by the NYPD.
For the period of Oct. 28 through Nov. 3, 2013, reports of major felonies rose 33.3 percent, compared with the same period in 2012, covering the week immediately after the storm when crime statistics were deflated. The biggest comparative increase came in grand larceny, which rose 82.4 percent, while murders increased 300 percent -- jumping from two in the week of Sandy to eight this year.
For seven days after Sandy -- which hit on Oct. 29 -- the city actually recorded no homicides.
Another indication of Sandy's effect on crime is seen in the week before the storm, when the city had 2,287 reported felonies. But in the week immediately after the storm, serious crimes plunged 26.6 percent to 1,678 incidents, police data showed.
"There was a significant decline in crime in the week after Sandy," said NYPD spokesman John McCarthy.
Law enforcement experts think the post-Sandy drop in crime reflected the struggle of city residents to survive and cope with dislocation. However, in the weeks after the storm, some parts of the city, notably the Rockaways, saw a more than 250 percent increase in burglaries as vacant homes were pillaged for scrap metal and valuable items, police said at the time.
In the 12 months since the storm, the swings in crime appear to have evened out. The post-Sandy anniversary week aside, the latest NYPD statistics show that felonies are down .5 percent this year compared with 2012. The most significant drop has occurred in homicides, which have dropped 22.3 percent and will probably by year's end hit the lowest level since the Eisenhower administration.
Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, speculated that some of the reason for the steep drop in crimes after Sandy might be that victims simply didn't bother to report them to a police force preoccupied with storm devastation and disruptions.
"The problem was people had a lot of things to do than report crimes," O'Donnell said. "We were battered a lot that week."