Police Say Thefts Are Rising as West Siders Have ‘Relaxed’ Their Street Smarts

By Alex Israel

Upper West Siders may have a false sense of security, at least when it comes to their personal belongings.

At a 20th precinct community meeting on Monday, Deputy Inspector Levon Holley reported that as of this month there have been 77 more crimes in the 20th precinct than this time in 2016. The bulk of the increase (73 of those crimes) coming from grand larcenies — thefts of expensive items. He said that there appears to be a “more relaxed sense of security” by residents in the neighborhood. The latest published stats, which are over a week old, show an increase of 63 grand larcenies, to 560 from 497 through the same period a year ago. That’s an increase of 13%.

Holley, commanding officer of the 20th precinct, provided a flyer with a number of tips to combat personal property theft, including:

–Do not hang purses over the back of chairs
–Do not leave property unattended anywhere
–Beware of persons causing a fuss or diverting attention

He handed out the flyer below with more info:

(Click to enlarge)

During the meeting, Keri Goldwyn, Director of the Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Uptown Team, spoke on her organization’s work on turning “homeless into housing,” and took questions from residents concerned about their heath and safety. She shared that within the Upper West Side, her team has helped to provide transitional housing for 40 people and permanent housing for 10 people in the last 3 months and urged people to continue calling 311 to report any concerns they had.

Following the meeting, local resident Andy Rosenthal inquired as to whether there were any updates on the crash at the intersection 72nd St and Amsterdam that caused the death of bicyclist Abu Sufian Molliek Rifat.

Holley stated that because the investigation was active he could not provide any additional details to the public at this point. He did share that the NYPD Highway Patrol was in charge of the investigation, and that he may have an update to provide by the time of the next Community Council meeting on November 28, 2017.

NEWS | 46 comments | permalink
    1. Bill says:

      One more thought, protect your pooch, do not leave where you cannot see. HANS market @ 93 rd & B Way will hold outside while you shop. Only takes a moment, the dog is gone.

    2. drg says:

      I find it fascinating how statistics can be interpreted in completely opposed points of view:

      1. thefts are increasing because victims are not careful (victim blaming), versus…
      2. thefts are increasing because bad guys are increasing

      The first proposition really makes little sense, like arguing that car thefts are increasing, because cars are leaving their doors open and the keys inside.

      The idea that people feel ‘safer’ in 2017 versus 2016 is quite a leap.

      • Jeff Berger says:

        It is not “victim” blaming. Just because you are a victim, does not mean you are not at fault. We have all forgotten the days when people put “clubs” on their steering wheels, when we put “nothing in car” signs on windshields, when people turned their jewelry around when they got on the subway. Worse, there are people who are new to the UWS who never saw those days.

        We became complacent after 20 years of Republican rule that made our city safe. Now that we have elected a Progressive who is asleep most of the day, we are going back to the bad old days. Time for all of us to get our street smarts back.

        • JerryV says:

          Thank you Jeff for solving this mystery by explaining that Bill deBlasio is personally responsible for all this crime. Who knew?

      • anon says:

        I’ve noticed only this year, many women wearing those cute little backpacks with visible phones and credit cards sticking out the back pocket, mainly at my subway stop (CPW 72nd st). I also see men with the larger iphones sticking out of their back pockets.

        I found myself thinking just a couple months ago, “This neighbourhood must be getting safer with people feeling so comfortable with their valuables out on display!”

        I don’t blame the victim. The thief is definitely at fault. There is a personal responsibility to protect yourself, though.

      • geoff says:

        well, look at it this way:

        opportunities for theft increase, and a fixed number of thieves steal more stuff,

        opportunities for theft increase, and a fixed number of thieves steal less stuff,

        opportunities for theft decrease, an increased number of thieves steal more stuff,

        and so on…

        what’s your point?

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        the issue for people who analyze statistics is that thefts are DECREASING citywide. crime is down in NYC, 2017 v 2016. So why the rise in this one type of crime, in the 20th and not other precincts?

        • GG says:

          Hmmmm….interesting question.

          Maybe the answer is that they are actually reporting accurate statistics and not cooking the books.

          We all know the very definition of “crime” has changed drastically in just the past few years.

          Here’s some advice…go ask one of our awesome police officers about it and I guarantee you will get the answer. It might not be the answer you want but it will be true.

          Anyway, be careful out there everybody!!

          • Mary says:

            The use of the word awesome is subjective

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            the definition of “grand larceny” in the statistics has not changed.

            it is your claim that they are “cooking the books” in all precincts but the 20th, and in fact in other crimes in the 20th except grand larceny?

            that does not stand up to examination.

            • GG says:

              Good morning, Bruce.

              Please, don’t be intellectually disingenuous. You know what has been going on in the city with the NYPD and DeBlasio and Viverito, etc.

              “Crime” these days and more importantly, law enforcement itself is apparently now up for debate. NYPD moral at an ALL TIME LOW.

              But keep pointing to numbers that back up your agenda while ignoring your own eyes, ears and nose. Whatever makes you feel good, right?

              Reminds me of Republicans and Trumpistas who just say…”look at the stock market, end of conversation” when talking about the economy.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              it’s a massive lie, foisted on us by the right wing, that the “books are being cooked” on the crime statistics.

              you live in one of the safest neighborhoods in one of the safest cities in the world.

              and if crime is indeed so out of control, De Blasio will not win. So we’ll see how that works out.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              further reply to GG:

              As I pointed out, your argument in and of itself is illogical. The “books are cooked” in some places and not in others.

              no logic there, sir. but i’m glad you “know” all these things because of your sharp eyes and ears and “nose”(?).

      • Cyrus says:

        Parse the message however you’d like. However, the point is for residents to be aware of their surroundings. I, for one, appreciate this reminder.

        • BJK says:

          They have provided absolutely no stats to evidence the reason for the increase in crimes—if they are going to victim-blame (or use any less contentious verb of your choice here), they should at least back that up with data showing that the factors alleged to have facilitated the crimes are higher now than in prior periods.

      • Jbb says:

        I grew up in NYC. The stupid behavior I see new arrivals to the city partake in is mindblowing. Yes, a lot of New Yorkers are being lulled into a false sense of security and acting irresponsibly. I once saw two different people leave their macs unattended in a Starbucks to pick up their drinks. That is more than enough time for a nefarious person to run up and grab the the computers and dash out. Also, whenever I hear about a person with lots of gear getting mugged late at night in Central Park I always ask “Why are they in Central Park at midnight?” It’s still New York City. I don’t understand the change year over year. That just might be normal variations but I can say that I’ve seen an escalation of unwise behavior over the past 20 years.

    3. UWS Dept of Comment says:

      I’m wondering if this spike in stats is due to the fact that more and more RESIDENTS of the UWS are not in fact, NEW YORKERS…People come here from Podunk, Iowa and call themselves a NEW YORKER but have NO idea how to live (defensively) in a big city and get their stuff pilfered.

      Native NY’ers know this, it’s ingrained in us, natives to this city NEVER —that means *NEVER* let their guards down because we know the consequences.

      citizen emptor

    4. Rob G. says:

      I guess police dept has no choice but to blame the victim now, since what is relaxed is the current administration’s stance on policing In the first place.

    5. Jason says:

      I agree that victims should be more proactive about their safety, this is a good point across the board regarding all times of crime, not just theft. Safety starts with personal responsibility and ensuring that you do not put yourself in a position to be taken advantage of, I applaud this effort.

    6. Bz says:

      This sounds like victim blaming.

    7. Ben David says:

      To all the folks here who constantly say I’m wrong about crime going up on the UWS … thank you, apology accepted!

      • Get Smart says:

        Your unsubstantiated allegation was that there had been a spate of “muggings” along Columbus Avenue. Nothing in this reportage supports your hysteria.

        I have seen it twice recently: 1) a woman old enough to know better with her purse casually hanging from the back of her chair in a sidewalk cafe on Broaday; 2) a young woman along, lying out on the grass getting sun, wearing headphones, an open purse with a wallet in sight, and a young man edging closer. Called her attention to her exposure, and the young man took off running.

        But these are not muggings. They’re people being careless, and leaving themselves open to theft. And this is not victim blaming, it’s a matter of common sense.

      • EricaC says:

        I will acknowledge that there is more iPhone theft. A rampaging wave of crime by evil others? Not so much. No apology offered yet.

    8. Steve says:

      I agree with drg.
      There are thousands of people living on the UWS and it is unlikely that as a whole they are less careful this year than last.
      There is little or no police presence on our streets and if anything, this has lead to the increase in crime.
      The police should take responsibility for the increase or the problem will just get worse.

    9. Se says:

      Lol, “West Siders have relaxed their street smarts”? No, more like that there are no West Siders remaining on the UWS!!

      • TF says:

        Where did they all go? Perhaps Westchester?

      • Paul RL says:

        Per Se: “There are no West Siders remaining on the West Side.”

        That’s the equivalent of Yogi Berra’s quote, “That place is so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.”

    10. RWC says:

      We need to address dealing with the criminals agreed with the other comment please let’s not blame the victim’s for acting like trustworthy people .

      People do you have a sense of safety in the neighborhood . I see Groups of unattended strollers parked in front of the school on West 93 st .
      Actually something uplifting to see people trusting the community to not steal the carriage, unfortunately there are still criminals that Opportunist see an opportunity to rob from others and do it.

    11. Anon says:

      I try not to carry wallet/keys in my bag.

      But it’s really hard to find women’s clothing with front pockets deep enough.

      And women’s jackets and coats USUALLY do not have inside pockets.

      Men’s clothing has pockets in pants, jackets, swim trunks, everything.

      I don’t think the police are so much blaming the victims as just making a plea for vigilance.

      I see people walking around with phones and wallets sticking out of their pockets.

      I just think we need to be mindful of how we carry our things.

      And I hope clothing makers will realize that women need pockets just as much as men do.

    12. debbie says:

      Another thought Broadway has very few business that are open in the evening. Thus walking along it in the evening or night has less people then in the past. Thus I believe making it less safe then in the past.

    13. OriginalMark says:

      Is it just me or do the people who say this is “victim blaming” sound like victims?

    14. Devyn says:

      I am always seeing people dining at sidewalk cafes with their phones on the table within easy reach of anybody walking by. I just assume they are either plain stupid, have enough money that $800-$1000 for a new phone is a minor inconvenience, or both.

      • OriginalMark says:

        I wish more phones were stolen. It might force people to actually pay attention to their surroundings and learn to communicate face-to-face.

        • Cato says:


          And maybe even open their eyes while they walk down the sidewalk, or across the street, so that the rest of us don’t have to dodge out of their way while they’re dropping fruit or whatever else they’re doing in their screen-based oblivion.

    15. B Flat says:

      It’s not just the UWS, people’s general situational awareness has become really poor.

      • GG says:

        You just said it!! Situational Awareness.

        That is what “street smarts” are all about. That’s what living in the city is all about. It’s what I drilled into all of my kids before I let them loose in this crazy city.

        Situational Awareness people. Know your surroundings. Don’t make yourself into a nice target. Don’t make yourself more vulnerable than you have to be. And pay attention!!! on the train, on the street, in the park, etc.

        Whether it’s crime, terrorism, fires, car accidents, it doesn’t matter. Get your heads in the game, people. This isn’t victim blaming…this is called being responsible for yourself in an increasingly messed up world.

    16. Gina says:

      I have to ageee with GG last comments
      Wake up people be aware and take
      responsebillity. I see in restaurants people
      still putting there bags hanging off the
      back of their chairs, people leaving their
      sweet little dogs tied outside while they
      do their shopping, leave their phones
      to pick up the coffee they ordered all the
      time, its funny how you can be highly
      educated and have very little common
      sense. So yes we live in a very different
      word today, we need to take responsibility
      and if you have lives
      in the UWS, like I have you better learn
      how to be street smart fast otherwise you
      will become a victim sooner or later.

    17. Brynn Kernan says:

      Has anyone noticed an increase in alcohol and drug consumption in public on the UWS? Low 80’s and Amsterdam our stoop has become a hot spot for groups of individuals to smoke and drink at really all times of day. Wondering if anyone has noticed this as well!