Thursday, March 7, 2013
Thefts and burglaries on the rise in 13th Precinct
| Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel|
13th Precinct DI David Ehrenberg speaks at a Flatiron BID Series event
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg spoke at the latest Flatiron BID Speaker Series event at the TD Bank on Park Avenue South on Wednesday morning, providing an updated report on crime in the neighborhood. He said that there has been an overall increase in crime recently, specifically in grand larcenies and particularly the theft of unattended property.
One of the most notable statistics was the increase in rapes. Three have been reported in the precinct this year so far but Ehrenberg clarified that this number was slightly misleading. None of the three incidents were random attacks on the street, he said. Two of the incidents did not even occur in the 13th Precinct, but were reported there because the victims were taken to local hospitals from other boroughs. The third incident occurred when a girl was assaulted in an apartment by two men that she knew.
The 13th Precinct covers 14th to 30th Streets from Seventh Avenue to the East River.
Ehrenberg also said that commercial burglaries have increased recently, as T&V previously reported in February. He added that there had been an increase in residential burglaries at the very beginning of the year but those have since gone down. The increases in commercial burglaries were due to individuals leaving their phones and bags unattended while at restaurants and bars and returning to find that they'd been stolen. He emphasized that a number of the cases have been phone snatches because the devices were left on tables.
"A lot of the phones that have been stolen cost between $300 and $500 and most people wouldn't leave that much cash sitting on the table but they've been leaving their phones out and that's what has been happening," he said.
Other commercial burglaries have been restaurant and store break-ins, conducted overnight in attempts to steal cash. However, they have been unsuccessful for the most part, as many stores do not keep cash in the registers.
The precinct's previous commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Ted Berntsen, noted at the Flatiron BID's last Speaker Series in October that "office creepers" were a particular problem in the district and Ehrenberg said that the problem has continued.
"They go in through the building lobby and give excuses like counting windows for window-washing, checking the air conditioning or looking for a birthday party, and that's the last attempt that's made to stop them," he said. "People are then finding out later that small things like cash, phones and laptops are being taken."
Ehrenberg encouraged anyone in an office building to call the precinct or the building's manager if seeing anyone suspicious. Because there is no follow-up besides a couple of questions, the thief is usually able to get away, he said.
Identity theft is an ever-lingering problem throughout the city and Ehrenberg said that residents should shred documents like bank statements and pay attention to anything out of the ordinary when at the ATM. Criminals have been able to commit identity theft by putting a device over the card readers at ATMs that scans the card, and pinhole cameras that allow criminals to see the individual's PIN when it's entered. Ehrenberg said that there haven't been any skimmers recovered from ATMs in this precinct but they have been found throughout the city.