By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Statistics released on Wednesday show that 2016 was New York City’s safest year since the city began keeping records on crime.
There were 4,315 fewer crimes committed here in 2016 compared to 2015, including the lowest number of shootings in decades. For 2016, there were 101,606 crimes reported in the city, compared with 105,921 in 2015, for a reduction of 4.1 percent.
The same holds true for Brooklyn Heights. Overall, major crime in the 84th Precinct — which also covers Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Vinegar Hill and the Farragut Residences — was down by 10.5 percent in 2016.
Still, police say, Brooklyn Heights’ residents should lock their doors and windows and stay alert, in light of a recent uptick in burglaries and other incidents in the neighborhood.
The 84th Precinct alerted the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) last Friday to a spike in burglaries during the last weeks of December. Seven neighborhood break-ins were reported over a two-week period — most taking place during the work week when apartments and homes were likely unoccupied, according to a bulletin put out by BHA.
Break-ins took place on Willow, Joralemon, Clinton and Livingston streets and Atlantic Avenue, according to CompStat, NYPD’s crime statistics report. The two weeks leading to Christmas showed a 12.5 percent jump in burglaries over last year.
In response, the 84th Precinct has increased its presence in the neighborhood. They are also asking residents to keep their eyes open.
"I appreciate the action by the 84th Precinct in alerting the community to the recent surge in residential burglaries. The NYPD is doing its part by stepping up its patrolling of the Heights,” Peter Bray, president of the BHA, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.
He added, “We can also do our own part by being more vigilant, starting with making sure we keep our doors and windows locked when we leave and calling 911 if we see someone who may be casing a building or exhibiting suspicious behavior."
In some instances, doors were forced open, BHA reports. One burglary occurred in a doorman building, leading police to believe that a fire escape may have been used to gain access through unlocked windows.
One commenter to the Brooklyn Heights Blog said he was now thinking of installing surveillance cameras after he heard his fence gate open at 2 a.m. last Saturday night on Willow Street.
“I … suspect someone was trying to test the strength of my stoop gate. The would-be thief left empty-handed,” he wrote.
BHA attributes the uptick in burglaries and other incidents to the “dramatic increase” in the volume of people and vehicles moving through the neighborhood.
The 84th Precinct’s resources have been strained, the group says, because of the wave of new developments in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Cobble Hill and Red Hook, as well as Brooklyn Heights.
The organization wants to install surveillance cameras in what it calls problem areas, such as Brooklyn Bridge Park entrances.
The recent rise in burglary and petit larceny is merely a blip, however, compared to Brooklyn’s high-crime bad old days.
To put it in perspective, major crimes are down roughly 83 percent since 1990.