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Why NYC’s violent crime is totally local

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New York City rental apartments, which account for 68% of all Big Apple homes, have never been in greater demand. Real estate developers are hungry to build tall new towers — even as office towers struggle to win back workers. 

Unlike in shooting-gallery Chicago and vagrant-colonized San Francisco — where retailers are getting out of Dodge as soon as they can load the trucks — stores are opening up all over town. Long-closed Century 21 returned to Church Street, Wegman’s is launching in Astor Square, Barnes & Noble has reopened to the Upper East Side and Trader Joe’s is coming to 125th Street.

How then might we reconcile their confidence with the “City in Crisis” narrative of higher crime, rampant homelessness and a migrant invasion beyond our government’s power to contain?

Well, the city is in crisis — but the crisis isn’t uniformly distributed. When it comes to street crime — the issue that most affects daily routines and decisions about whether to move here, stay or flee — serious mayhem like murders and shootings remain scarce in the parts of town where the most money is made and spent.

This is true despite “progressive” travesties that have set the city spiraling: “bail reform,” prosecution-averse district attorneys, “raise the age” legislation that gave kids under 18 license to kill and the ascendency to criminal-coddling judges.

A friend who’s opening a small Italian restaurant in the West 30s — which have more than their share of pharmacy thefts and 3 a.m. club shootings — told me he thinks about crime but, “I’m here to earn a living and make customers happy.” 

Translation: crime is a worry for him, but he won’t let it chase him out of town — at least not yet.

It isn’t breaking news that changes meant to promote “equity” have been most iniquitous to those who can least afford unsafe streets: residents of mostly minority, low-income neighborhoods who are victimized by a handful of gun- and knife-toting criminals  beyond the law’s reach.

But the crucial flip side of the story is largely overlooked: namely, the extent to which most of Midtown and stable residential neighborhoods have been spared the  bloodletting.


COMPSTAT is the New York Police Department's digital data system detailing weekly crime statistics. It reveals that the city's violent crime is mostly limited to just a handful of neighborhoods.
COMPSTAT is the New York Police Department’s digital data system detailing weekly crime statistics. It reveals that the city’s violent crime is mostly limited to just a handful of neighborhoods.

Major crimes are still up citywide over pre-pandemic 2019, regarded by many as the last “good year.” But the comparison is negatively skewed by a single category — auto theft, which afflicts mainly poorer, outer-borough areas.

Some 7,600 car heists were recorded as of July 6, compared with 5,403 in all of 2019. In Brooklyn’s perpetually troubled East New York, the 75th Precinct, for example, there were 296 auto thefts for all of 2019, but there have already been 303 to date in 2023. And the rest of the year isn’t looking great.


New York's first Wegmans grocery store is slated to open this fall, proof that consumer and business confidence in the city continues to hold strong despite crime spikes in certain areas.
New York’s first Wegmans grocery store is slated to open this fall, proof that consumer and business confidence in the city continues to hold strong despite crime spikes in certain areas.
Courtesy of Wegmans

For hard facts and figures, forget anecdotes and study instead the NYPD’s weekly COMPSTAT data, which offers detailed analysis of city-wide crime. A comparison of current trends with both 2019 and mid-July in 2021 reveals how much the crime spikes mostly spared all but a few of the city’s 77 police precincts.

This year has seen three murders (two of them domestic cases) in the 19th Precinct — the Upper East Side. There were none in 2019, but two each in 2021 and 2022, in a neighborhood of nearly 200,000 inhabitants. Major felony crimes in the 19th total 1,373 to date — on track to be only a few more than 2,273 in 2019.


The 6th Precinct in Greenwich Village saw no murders in 2019 and only one so far this year — which resulted from a fight between two homeless men.

Similarly, a single murder was recorded so far in the 20th Precinct on the Upper West Side — the same as in 2019. In other words, so far, so good. 

In the vast 109th Precinct, which covers Flushing, College Point, Malba and other parts of mostly middle-class northern Queens, no murders at all have been recorded to date. There were three in 2019.

There were no murders in the woke wonderland of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, the 78th Precinct, in 2019. This year has seen all of one —  a stabbing that grew out of a petty dispute at  a smoke shop.


A shooting from this past February in the East New York section of Brooklyn, one of six city precincts responsible for an outsized number of New York's most violence crimes.
A shooting from this past February in the East New York section of Brooklyn, one of six city precincts responsible for an outsized number of New York’s most violence crimes.
Paul Martinka

Midtown North, the so-called “Plaza District,”  suffered just one murder so far this year. That’s up from one in all of 2019 but down from three in 2021.  

So where have major crimes actually jumped since 2019?

The Post reported in February that 27% of all recent shootings occurred in six  Bronx and Brooklyn precincts, among them the mostly lower-income Mott Haven, Brownsville and East New York. 

The wild card is Midtown South, the 14th Precinct which includes Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and  Bryant Park — but is also home to hordes of fentanyl addicts and predatory homeless. Only one murder has occurred there this year compared with two in all of 2019.


Like the majority of the city, Greenwich Village has been almost entirely spared the uptick in violent crime that has plague parts of New York.
Like the majority of the city, Greenwich Village has been almost entirely spared the uptick in violent crime that has plague parts of New York.
Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post

Instances of assault, rape and shoplifting are considerably higher. But they’ve slowly but steadily fallen month-to-month, and Midtown South could again soon be as safe as the city’s other great neighborhoods.

Three years into New York’s latest crime “crisis” the headlines — including from this paper — may still suggest a city spiraling out of control. But there are many “cities” in New York City and most of them are as safe as they’ve ever been. We still have a long way to go to make all of New York truly secure. But in the meantime, there’s no need to turn the skyline lights off just yet.

scuozzo@nypost.com



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