We received the following information from a community group that helps support the 105th Street Dog Run in Riverside Park. (Update 5 p.m.: We’ve added more information from the NYPD below.)
“WARNING! NEW RIVERSIDE PARK SAFETY CONCERN!
We received this from our neighborhood’s doyenne of dog owners, Jane Burbank:
I spoke to an officer from the 24th Precinct today. She told me there has been a rash of daytime robberies in the park and that these thefts are happening “every day” and has become an increasing problem. The officer stated that groups of “teens” surveil people in the park – even hiding behind bushes, etc., — and look for people whose phones, purses, laptops, etc., are sitting next to them on benches or on the grass while they are reading or sunbathing.
When there is an opportunity, because someone looks away from their purse, phone or other property, one of the teens in the group runs up and grabs the personal property and they all run away. They are very well organized. This officer told me she was working undercover the other day and managed, with 2 other officers, to apprehend one group of 5 after they witnessed a robbery. This incident happened at 1pm.
This is a very dangerous situation. You may have seen the recent news reports about groups of young people have robbed and assaulted people near Central Park. There is always the possibility that some may be carrying weapons. Please be extra vigilant.
According to someone I spoke with at the 24th Precinct, the PD is short/under staffed. This must contribute to the traffic safety issues we are facing as well as these other types of crimes.”
Capt. Marlon Larin wrote to us about the thefts today. He clarified that these are technically larcenies and not “robberies” because there is no force being used. He says that they are often happening near soccer fields or volleyball courts:
“We do have some concerns in Riverside Park, specifically at the Soccer Fields and the Volleyball fields. This is not to say that opportunists are not targeting other victims who are frequenting open grassy areas for sunbathing activities or others sitting on park benches. Allow me to clarify that the crimes involved are not robberies as this crime needs an element of threat or use of force by the offender against the victim. We are experiencing grand larcenies of unattended property. The difference here is that there is virtually no contact between the suspects and the victims. The suspects are running off with valuables such as credit cards, electronics, and cash. We have conducted operations in the park and have a daily uniform presence during the daytime. The dates of crimes and any results are as follows:
- 6/17/14 7:45pm
- 6/28/14 3:00pm
- 7/22/14 6:00pm
- 7/24/14 6:00pm
- 7/28/14 8:00pm
- 7/29/14 1:00pm….3 adults arrested (regrettably, the complainant was unable to identify them, however, they were arrested on other charges.)
- 7/30/14 12:21pm….5 teenagers arrested
- 7/30/14 7:50 pm……2 teenagers and one 12 year old arrested
Please ask our community to commit to carrying as few valuables as possible while enjoying a day out at the park. Also, if certain items are absolutely necessary, to please consider attire that have zippered pockets or any other type of lining to secure valuables. Our message to potential victims is to harden themselves as a target. By closing the windows of opportunity, a suspect has no other option but to go away.
In any case, our endeavors at the park will continue.”
(By the way, officers from the 24th will be mingling with residents Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at the Happy Warrior Playground (West 98th and Amsterdam) as part of the National Night Out program).
Photo by Ed Yourdon.