Photo by David Basulto.
By Dipshikha Ghosh
An increase in thefts and robberies led to a 33% jump in overall major crimes in Central Park last year, and many of those crimes appear to have been committed by young people, according to Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, commanding officer of the Central Park Precinct. Police recorded 21 robberies and 37 grand larcenies in Central Park in 2019, up from 15 and 28 in 2018.
The northern section of the park, from 86th to 110th, had a disproportionate share of crime reports last year, Yaguchi said at a community council meeting held on Wednesday night at the precinct inside the park at 86th Street. Police believe five robberies were committed in that section of the park by groups of teenagers, he said. Yaguchi described the trend as “disturbing” and assured the community that police have increased patrols to cope with the rising crime rates. He said he’s been urged by police headquarters to focus on rehabilitation, getting parents of young people accused of crimes involved to keep it from happening again. The precinct has also increased its presence towards the lower end of Central Park, so that people committing crimes do not look at the park as an easy escape.
Other commanders in nearby precincts have also pointed to a rise in crimes committed by young people. Police believe teenagers were involved in the murder of Tessa Majors, the Barnard student killed in Morningside Park late last year. A 13-year-old has been arrested in connection with the crime, though initial reports described three possible assailants.
Yaguchi said that 80% of crimes at the park happen in small dark paths and advised pedestrians to stick to the well-lit big roads at night.