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Crime down in 49th Precinct, but robberies up

Bronx Times

Compared to 2010, the overall crime rate is down within the 49th Precinct, with the majority of incidents being “quality of life” complaints.

But there is one disturbing trend – robberies are on the upswing. The lion’s share of these robberies are non violent, and are related to cars. Mirrors, rims and other car parts being stolen are at a high rate. Muggings, especially near Lydig Avenue have flummoxed law enforcement over the past year as well.

Through Sunday, November 6 robberies are up 14.8 percent, according to NYPD statistics. All other forms of crime have decreased.

“Car crime is what’s driving crime in the 49th precinct,” deputy inspector Kevin Nicholson said at a town hall on crime issues held by the Morris Park Community Association on Wednesday, November 16.

“It’s cars being broken into, mirrors being taken off cars,” said Nicholson, who oversees the 49th Precinct.

One thing anyone can do to combat the car-part theft issue is to get their vehicle identification numbers etched on any removable part of their cars. VIN etching makes the parts easy for law enforcement to trace and virtually eliminates their black market resale value. The 49th Precinct offers free VIN etching.

Nicholson also encouraged area residents to contact the precinct’s community affairs division to keep him posted on any issues that he may not already be aware of.

He noted at the meeting that muggings, usually perpetrated overnight by groups of teenagers and young adults, continue to be an issue.

Most robbery crews, he said, come from within the area patrolled by the 49th, or come down from the 47th Precinct, which includes neighborhoods just to the north.

“These guys are good at what they do,” Nicholson said. “They’ll hide behind cars, then one guy will come out and get the person from behind.

“They sit in an apartment smoking weed, playing video games until 2 a.m. and say ‘I’m hungry, let’s rob someone,’ and then they go out and get someone who actually works for a living.”

Nicholson said that surveillance cameras along Lydig Avenue would go a long way in helping his officers identify and arrest serial muggers.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who attended the MPCA meeting along with Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera and Sentor Jeff Klein, said he would make sure that the precinct had sufficient funds from the city to install cameras in high-priority areas. If there was not enough left from the money he allocated in last year’s capitol budget, Vacca said, he would ensure next year’s does.

“One way or another, I’m willing to commit resources,” he said. “I’m guided by the inspector’s recommendations.”

Non-violent home robberies have also been an issue. Nicholson said the easiest and best way for people to avoid having their houses or apartments robbed is to keep all doors and windows locked. For people who live in apartments, keeping windows near fire escapes closed and locked is also essential.

Al D’Angelo, president of the Morris Park Community Association, said that while crime is not as prevalent in Morris Park and surrounding areas as in other areas of the Bronx, keeping quality of life issues under control is paramount for maintaining the area as a desirable place to live.

“We can’t sit back in our rocking chairs,” D’Angelo said. “The neighborhood’s only going to go to hell if we let it.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at bweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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