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Nassau crime is down for first few months of 2018, officials say

Residential burglaries have fallen this year, police say, but the opioid epidemic has partly fueled an increase in robberies at stores and gas stations.

Nassau police respond to a report of a

Nassau police respond to a report of a robbery in Uniondale on March 31, 2018. Overall crime is down in the county so far in 2018 compared to the same period last year, officials said on Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

Overall crime in Nassau fell in the first few months of 2018, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday, but commercial robberies and grand larcenies spiked.

The number of major crimes reported in the county between Jan. 1 and Monday was 1,525, a 0.33 percent reduction from the 1,530 logged in the same period last year, according to the latest statistics released at a news conference at Nassau police headquarters in Mineola.

Those figures include a 20 percent drop in residential burglaries, from 148 to 118, and a 20 percent decline in other break-ins, from 110 to 87. There was also a 7 percent decrease in vehicle thefts from 127 last year to 118 so far in 1018.

The overall reduction continued a downward trend that has seen crime in Nassau fall to historic lows.

“We are engaging the community like we have never done before, and the community is buying in,” Ryder said. “This is where they live. This is where they raise their children. They want the opiates off the street. They want the gangbangers off the street.”

So far this year, Nassau County has recorded just one homicide, compared with three in the same period last year. Curran said there were 15 murders in the county in 2017, the lowest rate since the 1960s.

“Nassau County continues to be one of the largest suburban counties with the lowest crime rate,” she said.

Not all the news in the first quarter of 2018 was good.

So far in 2018 three rapes have been reported in Nassau, according to the latest crime data.

The county’s ongoing opioid epidemic is at least partly to blame for the increase in commercial burglaries and grand larcenies, police said, as broke and desperate addicts either shoplift or hold up stores, gas stations and restaurants, looking for quick cash to fuel their habit.

Grand larcenies increased nearly 7 percent in the first quarter of this year, from 900 to 962, while commercial robberies jumped more than 20 percent, from 43 in 2017 to 52.

Crime in Suffolk also dropped in the first quarter of 2018, officials said at an April 4 news conference. Violent crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, declined nearly 19 percent from Jan. 1. to March 31 compared to the same period in 2017, Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said earlier this month.

Property crimes, including burglary, larceny and motor vehicle thefts, were down 10.3 percent in Suffolk for the quarter.

Curran said several crime-fighting initiatives rolled out by Nassau police in recent months have shown great promise. Among the initiatives Curran cited is the use of mapping technology to identify drug hot spots by linking opioid overdoses with larcenies from automobiles, which officials say is the most common crime committed by drug users.

The department has responded by beefing up enforcement in the identified areas — Ryder said officers made 300 arrests in drug hot spots in recent months. Meanwhile, elected officials have held town hall meetings to provide residents with information about drug prevention and treatment.

Town hall meetings have already been held in Massapequa, Levittown and East Meadow, and another is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hicksville Fire Department.

Curran said the mapping project will be called “Operation Natalie,” named after Natalie Ciappa, a Nassau County teen who died of a drug overdose 10 years ago. Her father, Victor Ciappa, said he has been frustrated by the county’s response to the opioid epidemic in the past but he is encouraged by the steps the department has taken in recent months.

“I finally feel hopeful,” he said at the news conference.

Year-to-date Nassau County crime statistics:

  • Homicides.....1 in 2018, three in 2017
  • Rapes.....3 in 2018, none in 2017
  • Commercial robberies.....52 in 2018, 43 in 2017
  • Other robberies.....65 in 2018, 74 in 2017
  • Felony assaults.....109 in 2018, 112 in 2017
  • Stolen vehicles.....118 in 2018, 127 in 2017
  • Grand larceny.....962 in 2018, 900 in 2017

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