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Crime on the rise in Williamsburg

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Despite the addition of 128 officers who helped curtail a crime spate on Williamsburg’s Southside, crime throughout the 90th Precinct stayed high last month.

Four and a half months into 2008, crime is up nearly 17 percent from its 2007 levels. There have been 597 “major index” crimes this year – crimes used to calculate a city’s crime rate – compared to 511 last year at this time, when crime dropped off 14 percent from its 2006 levels.

For most of this year, the crime uptick had been driven largely by robberies on the Southside in an area bounded by Broadway, and Metropolitan, Driggs, and Union avenues.

Many of these robberies were the doing of the Trinitarios, a Dominican–based gang that originated in upper Manhattan but has spread rapidly throughout the Tri-State area in recent years and is getting a foothold on Williamsburg’s Southside.

In response to the crime in this area, Brooklyn North Patrol command gave the precinct 128 freshly minted Police Academy graduates – or 42 officers per shift – on April 14th to flood the problem area.

These new cops, combined with the arrest of a non-gang affiliated man believed to have committed seven knifepoint robberies, helped contribute to a 37 percent crime reduction in the problem area.

Precinct cops also said they have made inroads combating the gang-recruitment activity, much of which had targeted middle schoolers at Junior High School 50 (181 S. 3rd Street).

But just as the precinct began solving the problem on the Southside, a new problem area has cropped up in the past month: A surge of crime between Scholes Street and Johnson Avenue on Manhattan Avenue, Graham Avenue, and Humboldt Street, near the Montrose Avenue L stop.

“It’s going well in that [Southside] area, but we’re taking on water in other places,” said Deputy Inspector John Corbisiero.

Corbisiero said that most of the crime in this new hotspot in being committed by a group of around 12 people aged 15-19.

“They’re from that area and they’re committing robberies. But they’re not affiliated with gangs – they’re friends, and some of them might be related,” Corbisiero said.

In response to the outbreak in this area, the precinct has allocated extra uniformed officers to the area, Corbisiero said.

This year’s increase in crime throughout the precinct owes itself to a rise in robberies (up 24 percent), felonious assaults (16 percent), and grand larcenies (36 percent).

Many of the robberies and felonious assaults have taken place either on the Southside or near the Montrose Avenue area.

As for the grand larcenies, Corbisiero said the proliferation of bars and nightlife in the area and the careless behavior of bar denizens had contributed to the increase.

“The biggest thing we’re getting is unattended property in bars,” he said.

“It’s great to be trusting, but criminals are working these bars. They’re just walking out with stuff.”

Corbisiero speculated that the lack of awareness among neighborhood bar-goers might be attributable to the area’s high concentration of non-native New Yorkers.

“Williamsburg is a great place, but you’re not in Kansas anymore. You have to be savvy,” he said.

Corbisiero also encouraged community residents not to leave property visible in cars.

“There’s an old saying in New York: ‘If you want to keep it, don’t show it.’ But we’re getting people leaving laptops in the backseat,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of reporting crimes as soon as possible after they occur.

“Don’t wait until the next morning. If we know about it when it happens, it’s much easier to go get these guys. We really need people to report these crimes immediately,” he said.

In addition, Corbisiero said that victims of cell-phone thefts should not cancel their service immediately.

“The bad guys use the phones right after they steal them, and that helps us catch them,” he said.

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