Crime rates rise in Sandy-sacked areas
New York City neighborhoods hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy suffered big crime increases in the past month - more than double last year's rate in some places - driven by a dramatic spike in burglaries, according to police data.
The latest NYPD report of citywide crime for the four-week period ending Nov. 25 showed a surge in property crimes in parts of the Rockaways, Brooklyn and Staten Island that mostly have low crime rates.
With hundreds of homes and businesses severely damaged and vacated, thieves targeted the distressed areas.
Police responded with increased helicopter and car patrols and set up floodlights in unlit areas.
The city overall has seen a serious crime increase of only 3.3% this year, and in the month after the storm, reported felonies dropped 7.6%, according to data released Monday.
But in the 100th Precinct, which covers the heavily damaged Belle Harbor and Breezy Point areas of Queens, crime is up 131% in November compared to a year ago, including a 237% jump last week alone. Burglaries are to blame, said Deputy Inspector Scott Olexa, the precinct commander.
"Certainly, property crimes are our issue now," said Olexa, a Nassau County resident who took over the precinct some 18 months ago. "People did evacuate for a period of time, and that gives the advantage to the criminal element."
Burglaries in the precinct have increased 1,200% so far in November compared with the same period of 2011, from 5% to 65%, according to police data.
In the neighboring 101st Precinct, which covers Far Rockaway, burglaries rose more than seven-fold, from eight in November 2011 to 57 so far this month.
Another problem spawned by Sandy has been thefts of storm-wrecked cars, precinct commanders said. The 100th and 101st precincts made eight arrests for auto theft or unauthorized towing.