Bitter blasts from Old Man Winter failed to put a freeze on crime in the NYPD’s 9th precinct. The East Village experienced spikes in felony assaults, grand larcenies and robberies over 28 days starting in the last week of January when compared to the same period last year, according to Deputy Inspector Peter J. Venice, the precinct’s commanding officer.
During a meeting of residents at the stationhouse on East 5th Street Tuesday night, Venice expressed concern about the precinct’s spike in robberies—up to 11 from five from last year over the same time period. There were seven arrests, but Venice said that a knife-wielding bandit “is still out there” after striking twice, once on January 21 and again on January 23. Police haven’t released the names of victimized spots but said they’re located on East 4th Street and East 7th Street. The suspect also hit twice in the fifth precinct “next door,” an area that includes Chinatown and Lower Manhattan. Venice characterized the perp as a “pattern robbery suspect.”
“Basically, he’s a man who walks into a commercial establishment, displays a knife and demands money from the cash register,” he said. “We’re working on investigative leads to apprehend him. He’s definitely a person we want off the streets, and he’s contributing to our robbery spike.” Venice didn’t provide any more details regarding the man’s description, and he has not returned our requests for more information.
Meanwhile, grand larcenies rose to 70 versus 49 from last year, with most of them occurring in clubs and bars where thieves snatch unattended property. “People [are] getting victimized by pickpockets in the clubs when they leave their wallets or pocketbooks open,” Venice said. “It’s so crowded they don’t even feel it.”
Answering a question from a local man, Venice described grand larceny as the theft of property worth more then $1,000. The crime category also includes property stolen by pickpocketing, regardless of item’s value.
Citing other safety issues in the 9th, Venice noted that three shots were fired in the area of Avenue C and East 12th Street on the same day in the third week of January. There was also a separate incident where shots were fired on Avenue D and East 7th Street. “No one was hit, thankfully,” Venice said.“We haven’t been able to identify who was being targeted or who was the shooter. We’re still working on that.”
There were also 11 felony assaults last month, up from nine in that time frame from 2014, but Venice said he was “happy to announce there were 10 arrests, so most of those cases are closed.”