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NYPD: Spate of homicides, burglaries drives up NYC crime

New York police officers wear masks while patrolling

New York police officers wear masks while patrolling a subway in the Bronx on Friday.  Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan

Major crime in New York City stayed at low levels for another week, typical of the COVID-19 period, but the NYPD brass is concerned about a recent uptick in homicides and commercial burglaries.

Ever since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered a ban on nonessential work and travel, key felonies such as homicide, rape, burglary, robbery and car theft have in total declined by 35% over the week ending March 15 for the five boroughs, NYPD data shows.

But in the past two weeks in particular, the NYPD has seen 10 homicides for each week, pushing the total for the year to 92 or an increase of 5.7% over the same period in 2019, the data showed.

Burglaries meanwhile have increased 21.5% in the five-week period, and the NYPD chalks up that big increase to rip-offs of commercial establishments closed or otherwise affected by pandemic emergency measures.

 “The NYPD is very concerned by the slight uptick in the number of homicides and remains committed to keeping all New Yorkers safe. While these numbers are troubling, we have made arrests in 11 of these cases and have strong investigative leads into others,” said NYPD spokeswoman Jessica McRorie in a statement.

Michael LiPetri, chief of crime control strategies for the NYPD, said that burglars, who are often repeat offenders, are hitting not only closed businesses but those allowed to stay open because they generally have cash on hand in the buildings.

The burglars are making rooftop entries and are hitting businesses all over the city, in every borough except Staten Island, noted LiPetri.

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“Since March 12, we have a seen a change in the targets, less residential and truck to more commercial,” said LiPetri.

One problem confronting cops since the beginning of the year is that burglary suspects, barring aggravating circumstances, are getting released without bail under provisions of criminal justice reform that kicked in Jan. 1 and they tend to reoffend, explained LiPetri.

“They are preying on helpless victims,” he said.

Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD detective sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he was concerned that the close living conditions people are forced to be in under Cuomo’s stay-at-home directive are driving domestic violence.

Although detailed statistics on homicides weren’t available Tuesday, at least one recent killing, the Sunday strangulation death of Tania Gonzalez, 48, of Manhattan, is being investigated as a possible domestic violence homicide, said police.

To deal with the burglary increase, LiPetri said the NYPD was redeploying cops from other units and sending up helicopters at night to spy on rooftop break-ins.

“We continually evaluate and allocate resources where they are needed and remain committed to keeping all New Yorkers safe,” said McRorie.           

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