A month after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc, neighborhoods in some of New York City’s hardest hit areas are seeing significant spikes in crime, largely driven by burglaries.
According to the New York Police Department’s latest report, in the four weeks following Sandy there has been a surge in property crimes throughout storm-devastated areas of Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Rockaways area of Queens, where crime rates before were generally low.
In many of the distressed areas targeted by thieves, businesses and homes remain abandoned due to damage caused by the storm.
In the neighborhoods of Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, which gained national attention for having large sections completely decimated by Sandy, the NYPD’s 100th Precinct, which patrols the neighborhoods, has seen crime rates jump 131 percent compared with November 2011.
According to police data, burglaries have increased 1,200 percent in those areas, from five during November 2011 to 65 in the past month.
“Certainly, property crimes are our issue now . . . People did evacuate for a period of time, and that gives the advantage to the criminal element,” NYPD Deputy Inspector Scott Olexa told Newsday.
In Far Rockaway’s 101st Precinct, which borders Breezy Point, burglaries have increased more than sevenfold, to 57 this November from eight last year.
In the Staten Island areas of St. George, Stapleton, New Dorp and Midland Beach — all severely damaged by Sandy — burglaries have doubled, according to police reports. The same can be said for Brooklyn’s Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.
To curtail the rising crime rates, police have increased their presence both in the street with patrol cars and overhead with helicopters. The NYPD has also installed floodlights on streets that remain without electricity.
To make sure their presence reassures residents and is felt by thieves, many patrol cars routinely circle poorly lit areas with their rooftop lights continuously on, according to NYPD Inspector Peter DeBlasio of Coney Island’s 60th Precinct.
DeBlasio, whose precinct facilities were severely damaged during the storm, is working out of an NYPD communications vehicle while repairs are made.
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