With sexual assault crimes and burglaries at a two-year high, the Central Park precinct answers questions about the recent spike
Is crime in Central Park back on the rise?
The numbers are worrisome, including a 7.5 percent overall jump in crime since last year and a 5.21 percent increase from two years ago.
A number of high-profile robberies -- including a hold-up with a gun last weekend -- has added to the jitters.
On November 20th, two teenagers from the Bronx allegedly assaulted and stole cell phones of multiple park-goers - one of the most common crimes in the city. The teens were soon caught by park patrol and indicted.
According to Central Park Precinct Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, there were four robberies in the park last month with no injuries.
The number of robberies has actually remained steady over the past year, and has decreased 23.5 percent since 2011. However, the number of burglaries in the park has increased 500 percent over the past two years, a concern, says Inspector Corey, the precinct is working on.
"You can't just draw conclusions from raw numbers," said Inspector Corey. "I'd rather be up in burglaries than robberies, which make up overall index crime. Violent crime like robberies is not up, and even if they were, they're at such a low from years ago."
The biggest cause for alarm, of course, is the increase in sexual assault crimes in the park. This year, there were six reported cases of rape or attempted rape. That might not sound like a large number, but it is in comparison with last year, when there was only one case of sexual assault. The news of last fall's sexual assault case went viral: a 73-year-old woman who was violently raped mid-day by a stranger near Strawberry Fields.
In the case of this year's sexual assaults, Inspector Corey said, the biggest difference is that four of the six crimes occurred after the park closed at 1 a.m., and in all four cases, the victim had entered the park with the perpetrator. One of the other cases was at approximately 10:30 p.m., when a jogger was attacked by a stranger in the park. The perpetrator, said Inspector Corey, was immediately caught by patrol, and the victim was unharmed.
"In most of these cases, it's not as if we have someone grabbing and assaulting people in the park," said Inspector Corey. "As always, we want people to be aware of their surroundings, don't take shortcuts in dark areas, don't bury your head in a cell phone."