Crime on the rise?

David Goldsmith

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I wasn't sure whether to put this in one of the "Retail" threads or here.
Boarded-Up Windows and Increased Security: Retailers Brace for the Election
Stores are making plans for how to deal with potential civil unrest stemming from Tuesday’s election.

Nordstrom, the high-end department store chain, said it planned to board up some of its 350 stores and hire extra security for Election Day on Tuesday. Tiffany & Company, the luxury jeweler, said that “windows of select stores in key cities will be boarded in anticipation of potential election-related activity.” Saks Fifth Avenue said it was “implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election.”
In Beverly Hills, the police said they would take a “proactive approach” and close Rodeo Drive, a renowned strip of luxury retailers, on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing the likelihood of increased “protest activity.” The police, working with private security companies, said they would also be on “full alert” throughout Beverly Hills starting on Halloween and continuing into election week.
The nation is on edge as the bitter presidential contest finally nears an end, the latest flashpoint in a bruising year that has included the pandemic and widespread protests over social justice. Anxiety has been mounting for months that the election’s outcome could lead to civil unrest, no matter who wins. In the retail industry, many companies are not simply concerned about possible mayhem — they are planning for it.
In a show of just how volatile the situation seems to the industry, 120 representatives from 60 retail brands attended a video conference this week hosted by the National Retail Federation, which involved training for store employees on how to de-escalate tensions among customers, including those related to the election. The trade group also hired security consultants who have prepped retailers about which locations around the country are likely to be the most volatile when the polls close.

“I am 50-plus years old, and I didn’t think I would live to see this,” said Shane Fernett, who owns a contracting business in Colorado Springs and has been stocking up on plywood to board up his retail customers. “You read about this in third-world countries, not America.”

For the retail industry, 2020 has been filled with bankruptcies, store closures and plummeting sales as tens of millions of Americans struggled with job losses because of the pandemic. Protests over police violence against Black citizens sent millions of people into the streets, demonstrations that in some cases devolved into the looting and burning of stores in a number of cities. Worries about unrest around the election have been fanned by President Trump, who has declined to say whether he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power if his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., is victorious.
Protests flared again this week after Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man with mental health issues who was carrying a knife, was killed by the police in Philadelphia. That set off looting and clashes with the police in parts of the city. Citing the civil unrest in Philadelphia, Walmart said on Thursday that it was removing all of its firearms and ammunition from its sales floors across the country. On Friday, Walmart said it was returning guns to the sales floor, after determining that the incidents of unrest “have remained geographically isolated.”

This year, businesses have already sustained at least $1 billion in insured losses from looting and vandalism largely set off by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, according to one estimate cited by the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group.

It is on target to be the most costly period of civil unrest in history, likely surpassing damages during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and many of the civil rights protests of the late 1960s.

The situation in 2020 has drawn comparisons to protests in the 1960s, but Derek Hyra, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University, said recent unrest had been more geographically widespread, affecting a wider swath of businesses.

“Most of the rioting and burning in the 1960s happened within the geography of low-income Black spaces,” Mr. Hyra said. “In the 2020 unrest, more of it happened in downtown and affluent areas.
“It’s not just urban America,” he added. “The protests have been in the suburbs, they’ve been in rural areas.”
Protecting properties from potential damage is not a simple decision. Retailers can risk alienating their customers by erecting plywood, particularly if the anticipated unrest does not materialize.

“You are sending a message when you do that,” Stephanie Martz, general counsel of the National Retail Federation, said. “You don’t want to necessarily engage in this kind of grim forecasting.”

Some companies aren’t taking chances — the iconic Macy’s location in Manhattan’s Herald Square was boarded up on Friday. But other large businesses are keeping their plans vague.
Target, with about 1,900 stores, said in a statement, “Like many businesses, we’re taking precautionary steps to ensure safety at our stores, including giving our store leaders guidance on how to take care of their teams.”
A spokesman for CVS, which operates nearly 10,000 stores, said: “Our local leadership teams are empowered to take steps that they determine will best support the safety of our stores, employees and customers. This includes the option to board select store locations.”

Gap Inc., with more than 2,000 stores in North America, said it had “contingency plans set in place for any issues that may arise and will continue to monitor the situation carefully and closely next week.”
Behind the scenes, though, many businesses are making explicit preparations.

A beauty supply store in North Philadelphia was damaged after widespread looting this week.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
Tom Buiocchi, who runs an online platform called ServiceChannel, which connects retailers with local contractors in cities across the country, said more than 500 stores had filled out work orders to board up or take other protective measures ahead of the election.
He said he had discussions this week with a group of luxury retailers who were reluctant about being the first ones to take any visible precautions. “No one wants to be the only one boarding up in a community; it can be off brand,” Mr. Buiocchi said.

Some retailers have debated whether erecting boards would make them more of a target. Others are taking steps like purchasing different screws for the plywood from the ones they used in June, hoping to thwart looters with screw guns. The costs of boarding up businesses can range from a few hundred dollars to $31,000 for large department stores with display windows.
For the stores that stay open through election night and the uncertain days that could follow, their workers will again be thrust into a volatile situation. Already, retail employees are faced with the potential for violence in trying to ensure that customers wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Election week could pose more dangers.
The training offered by the retail federation was originally meant to help workers defuse tense situations around mask wearing by advising employees to make nonthreatening eye contact and speak with empathy, said Ms. Martz, the group’s top lawyer.

The police said they would be on “full alert” throughout Beverly Hills starting on Halloween and continuing into election week.

She acknowledged that there could be added danger for workers on Tuesday night because the police are likely to be stretched thin if there are protests. “People are so divided, and it is such a tinderbox,” Ms. Martz said.
It is all a stark reminder of just how tense the country’s political situation is.
“Maybe in other countries, protest and chaos is more commonly understood around the transfer of power like a presidential election or a prime minister,” said Professor Hyra of American University. But in the United States, “there has been such a clear understanding that we live in a democracy and whoever wins the Electoral College, there is a peaceful transfer of power.”
Mr. Fernett, the contractor in Colorado, said he had recently purchased a two-year supply of plywood and two-by-four planks at the request of fretful retailers.
He is taking his own precautions. He has removed the name of his business, Jack of All Trades, from his company trucks, and is requiring that his technicians work in pairs next week for their own safety.

“Our local lumber yard asked what’s going on, why such a big order,” Mr. Fernett said. “I said, ‘We think all hell is going to break loose.’ That’s why we are stocking up. I hope we don’t need to use it.”

Saks Fifth Avenue said it was “implementing additional security measures at certain locations in the event of civil unrest due to the current election.”Credit...Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

David Goldsmith

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8-Year-Old Girl Among Three People Shot And Injured Outside Harlem Supermarket

An 8-year-old girl was among three bystanders shot and injured outside of a Harlem supermarket on Saturday evening, according to the NYPD.
About 7 p.m. on Saturday, police officers responded to a 911 call about a person shot outside of the Fine Fare Supermarket on Lenox Avenue between West 116th and 117th streets, the NYPD said.
Officers found a 33-year-old woman shot in the right arm, who was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, the department said in a release. Two others were shot at that location and were treated at the hospital—a 39-year-old man with injuries on his right arm, and an 8-year-old girl who was shot in the right knee, according to NYC Health + Hospitals. All three were in stable condition, according to the NYPD.
ABC7 reported the 39-year-old man and the child were a father and daughter trick-or-treating as a family, with another child who was uninjured during the incident.

The police department believes that all of the victims were unintended targets. No arrests have been made.
According to the police department, just before the shooting, two men were seen arguing with each other. The argument escalated into a gunfight, each shooting at each other, when stray bullets struck the three victims, the NYPD said.
Police are looking for a man around 20- to 30-years-old seen in surveillance footage wearing a green and black jacket—who they believe was the man who injured the three victims. The second man is around the same age and was seen in a dark baseball cap.

Shootings have been rising in the city this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred mass job loss and disruption to people's daily lives, killing more than 24,000 people in New York City alone. Shooting incidents in 2020 have nearly doubled compared to last year, from 653 to 1,276 , according to police statistics as of October 25th. The number of people injured or killed in shootings also rose—776 at this time last year to 1,569 so far in 2020, stats show.
The latest statistics for the entire month of October have not yet been released by the department. In September, there were 152 shooting incidents, compared to 67 in September 2019—a 127% rise.
Community activists working to halt shootings have called for more resources for cure violence groups, a part of the city's crisis management system that aim to mediate conflicts before gun violence erupts. Police leaders have blamed bail reform and efforts to release incarcerated individuals from jail early to mitigate coronavirus outbreaks in jails, though both those explanations have not been backed up by data.
The uptick in shootings has been seen across the country this year. The New York Times reported last week that some researchers have tied the rise to coronavirus stresses, as more people seek out guns, and community programs mitigating violence have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

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NYC gun arrests increase by 102%, shooting incidents by 121% compared to October of last year, NYPD says
There were 137 shooting incidents and 502 gun arrests in New York City in October, increases of 121% and 102%, respectively, over the same month last year, according to the NYPD's latest crime statistics report.
In October, gun arrests increased in every borough compared to last October, the NYPD said.
For the year-to-date, there have been 1,299 shooting incidents, a 93.9% increase over the same period in 2019, and 3,308 gun arrests, a 15% increase over that period last year.

Burglaries and auto thefts were up for October by 32.2% and 78.7%, respectively, compared to October 2019, the NYPD said. Murders dropped, from 36 in October 2019 to 35 this October.
Overall citywide, reported hate crimes have declined 34% compared to this time last year (from 359 to 237), but there have been at least 24 Covid-19-related hate crimes.
The NYPD says that "there are primarily two motivating factors behind those crimes: The victim's race (Anti-Asian) and the perception that they have Coronavirus."

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Man stabbed in Midtown hours after two other nearby knife attacks
A man was stabbed at the corner of 34th street and 8th avenue in Manhattan.William Farrington
A man was fighting for his life after being stabbed in the middle of 34th Street early Sunday — just blocks from where a 39-year-old man was stabbed to death outside a pizza joint in one of two knife attacks hours earlier.

The latest victim, a 51-year-old man, was left in a pool of blood in the major Manhattan street at the intersection with 8th Avenue after a fight at around 8:30 a.m., police sources said.

“I heard a scream and then saw a guy running toward the subway,” witness Seka Quina, 23, from Brooklyn, told The Post.

“Then others started running. I turned and saw the guy on the ground bleeding — a lot. It looked bad,” Quina said.

The victim was taken to Bellevue hospital in serious condition, police said.

Sunday’s attack was just four blocks from where a man was stabbed to death late Saturday outside a 2 Bros Pizza takeout spot, with another stabbing late Saturday on a train pulling in to Grand Central.

Sources identified Ronald Massaro, 39, as the victim killed in the 2 Bros attack after being stabbed in the chest after a fight with another man. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The killer fled north up 8th Avenue from the pizza joint at 38th Street, police said. A suspect — identified by sources as Lawrence Downey, 52 — was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder, sources said.

About an hour after that attack, a subway rider — identified by sources as Luis Andino, 53 — was slashed in the face after a fight with two men that started on a downtown 4 train and spilled out onto the platform when it pulled into Grand Central station.

Benigno Perez, 37, was arrested on suspicion of assault, while the suspected knifeman was still at large, sources said.

David Goldsmith

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David Goldsmith

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A Late-Night Robbery is the Latest Pandemic Setback for B&H Dairy

After months of pandemic-related difficulties, decades-old East Village restaurant B&H Dairy faced another setback this week. At approximately 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a thief broke into the beloved restaurant and made off with its cash register. Local blog EV Grieve first reported news of the break-in.

“We are so sad that someone steal register [sic] and broke the door of B&H,” the owners shared in a post on Facebook. “God help us.” In the post, the owners shared a photograph of the deli’s front window, which contains a fist-sized hole, presumably used to unlock the front door and steal the register. Following the break-in, restaurant co-owner Ola Abdelwahed found the empty cash register on the corner of East Seventh Street, where the thief apparently destroyed and discarded the machine. In total $500 was stolen from the restaurant, Abdelwahed tells local blog Bowery Boogie.
The robbery is the latest in a series of hurdles for the old-school kosher restaurant, which opened its doors on Second Avenue in 1938. Earlier in the pandemic, co-owners Ola and Fawzy Abdelwahed shared that the restaurant “went from serving 200 customers a day in March, to zero customers, and therefore zero income for a full two months.” When the restaurant reopened in May, the Abdelwaheds started accepting credit cards and serving their food through third-party delivery apps — two firsts for the restaurant — but those measures only increased their customers to about 50 per day, a mere 25 percent of their pre-coronavirus sales.

“It’s always something, but B&H never give up,” Ola Abdelwahed said in a video posted the morning after the robbery. “We are here for you guys, okay?” By 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant had reopened its doors for delivery.

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NYPD, MTA probing $500,000 copper wire theft from Union Square station, Broadway subway line

Around $500,000 worth of copper wire was stolen from a stretch of Manhattan subway beneath Broadway from Union Square to Midtown, officials said Friday.

An estimated 38,000 feet of wire was ripped off walls and and stolen from spools inside the Union Square station and up the N/R tracks to W. 36th St., MTA officials and police said.

An overheating electrical substation in the Union Square station led officials to discover the missing wire on Oct. 23, police said. It was not clear to police sources if the wire had been installed, or was waiting to be installed.

The MTA was still working to figure out how the copper was stolen, said sources.

“As soon as it was determined that copper wire was missing from tunnel areas, we launched an internal review and have notified the NYPD and MTA inspector general,” MTA spokesperson Tim Minton said.

“We take this matter very seriously and will cooperate fully with the independent investigations into what occurred,” Minton said.

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'Sliwa said his volunteers soon learned there were other problems in the neighborhood, including a “corridor of misery, despair, and crime” on 20th and 21st Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues, where “people are selling drugs, shooting up. . .emotionally disturbed.” '
Isn't that the location of the 10th Precinct?

‘Corridor of misery, despair and crime’: Guardian Angels patrol NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood

The Guardian Angels have begun patrolling Chelsea — the third Manhattan neighborhood the crime-prevention group has descended upon this year.
“These are places, if you would have ever suggested years ago they need Guardian Angels, they would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ Well now they do,” said founder Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa and other volunteers began walking the Chelsea area Sept. 29, not long after police said a grocery store manager was viciously attacked there by a deranged homeless man, ABC 7 reported.
Ramon Acevedo, 64 was opening the 25th Street store July 23 when Oscar Apronti, 27, suddenly swung a hammer at Acevedo’s head, police said.

Sliwa said his volunteers soon learned there were other problems in the neighborhood, including a “corridor of misery, despair, and crime” on 20th and 21st Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues, where “people are selling drugs, shooting up. . .emotionally disturbed.”
More than 100 hotels in the city have taken in homeless shelter residents this year to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The once-family-friendly Upper West Side was also plagued by an influx of hotel-shelter residents who slept on the street, shot up and defecated in broad daylight, prompting Sliwa’s volunteers to begin patrolling there this summer.
Earlier this week, the Guardian Angels announced its volunteers would also begin canvassing the Upper East Side.

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Stanton Street 99-Cent Pizzeria Robbed Before Thanksgiving

Another commercial robbery in Hell Square.
Last week, just before Thanksgiving, the 99-cent pizzeria at 105 Stanton Street fell victim.
Police say that two men busted through the front door and stole money from the cash register ($1,400) as well as an electronic bicycle (valued at $2,400). Both individuals were seen fleeing eastbound on Stanton Street with the bike. No arrests have been made.
The incident followed mere days after the SX Grocery had its ATM stolen, along with the $8,000 of cash inside.

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Crime Wave Hits Bodegas, Threatening a Lifeline in the Pandemic​

Bodegas have seen a 63 percent rise in shootings and a threefold increase in burglaries. Six people have been killed in or just outside the stores.

It was shortly after 6 o’clock one night in late October when Hardik Parekh, the manager of a corner store in Queens, saw a man he recognized as a chronic shoplifter walk in. Not again, he thought.
Mr. Parekh shared a glance with a co-worker, Mohmediyan Tarwala, 26, who quickly moved to escort the man out the door. The mundane moment then took a terrifying turn. The man pulled out a firearm and fatally shot Mr. Tarwala, Mr. Parekh said.
“Lately, after the pandemic, I don’t know why, but we had people come in and threatening us,” Mr. Parekh said, standing near the spot where his friend collapsed. “I never thought it would end up in murder.”
In the spring, as New York went into lockdown and essential items flew off supermarket shelves, the bodegas — part pantries, part community centers — became a lifeline for New Yorkers searching for hard-to-find staples.

They also became havens during the shutdown, scrappy 24-hour stores where people could find a loaf of bread, some hand sanitizer, a cup of coffee, a lotto ticket or, in some cases, just a sense of community.
But as the pandemic has worn on and increasing numbers of people have lost their jobs or fallen on hard times, the bodegas that a few months ago were seen as islands of normal life have become prime targets in a growing crime wave, endangering operators like Mr. Parekh.

During the first eight months of the pandemic, there was a 63 percent increase in shooting incidents inside or in front of bodegas and corner stores, a 222 percent rise in burglaries, and a 10 percent spike in robberies, according to police department data obtained by The New York Times. Six people have been killed in or just outside the stores, according to the data.
The surge comes as a second wave of the virus hits the city and a steep rise in gun violence that plagued New Yorkers over the summer shows no signs of slowing down. Shootings have doubled this year over last, and murders are up nearly 40 percent.

Fernando Mateo, one of the founders of the United Bodegas of America, an organization that represents about 20,000 bodegas in New York, said the pandemic had provided cover for a small number of criminals to target neighborhood stores, most of which are owned by immigrants.
“Some are taking advantage that everyone is wearing masks to commit crimes,” Mr. Mateo said. He said the bodegas are struggling to stay afloat by selling inexpensive items like chips, beer and milk, with tiny profit margins sometimes measured in pennies. “When they are robbed, they are robbed of real dollars,” he said.
Because of their long hours, bodegas have always been targets of crime, but they are also seen as safe havens from street violence. That role was brought into sharp relief in the summer of 2018, when a 15-year-old boy, Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, ran into a Bronx bodega in a desperate attempt to escape the Trinitarios gang.
The gang members dragged Lesandro out on the sidewalk as he pleaded for his life. Security cameras captured the gruesome scene as the gang members stabbed him to death.

Since then, a handful of bodega owners have added safety measures, such as panic buttons, brighter lights and special locks. But Mr. Mateo said the majority of bodega operators cannot afford the added security, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Until recently, Mr. Parekh was one of them. He said he finally invested in a panic button and is adding bright lights at his store, Crossbay Express.

For months he said he looked the other way when he noticed people sneaking out of his shop without paying for items like ice cream, beer or canned goods, because he “knew they were hurting.”

“We didn’t mind,” he said. “Why would we bother the cops for that?”
By late October, however, Mr. Parekh said he and his store clerks knew they could not sustain the losses.
One of the repeat shoplifters was a man who had been living in a van near the store, Mr. Parekh said. The man shoplifted a pint of ice cream on Oct. 26, then returned later that night.
Mr. Tarwala, who was known as Iyan, immediately led the man, identified by the police as Steven Cohen, 63, out of the store, and held the door shut to prevent him from re-entering, Mr. Parekh recalled.
“We didn’t know he had a gun,” he said.
The move only infuriated Mr. Cohen, Mr. Parekh remembered. He shoved his way in, pulled a pistol and shot Mr. Tarwala in the stomach, the police said.

As Mr. Tarwala collapsed, Mr. Cohen fired two more rounds. One bullet pierced a plexiglass divider set up to prevent the spread of the virus, Mr. Parekh said.

An off-duty police officer, Jason Maharaj, happened to be standing by the cash register when Mr. Cohen burst in, the police said. The officer pounced on the gunman and quickly disarmed him. Mr. Cohen was later charged with murder.
Mr. Parekh said that the bullet hole “reminds me every day of what happened.”
“The guy opened the door and boom,” he said. “If that off-duty cop wasn’t here, I would be dead right now.”
Mr. Parekh and Mr. Tarwala were immigrants from Gujarat, India, and had become close in the last two years, Mr. Parekh said. After their shifts, they would sit at the back of the store and talk about the families they left behind and their plans for the future. Mr. Tarwala was planning to move to Canada after the pandemic subsided and marry a longtime girlfriend, Mr. Parekh said.

Police officers like Nicole Spinelli and Corey Simpson, two neighborhood community officers in the South Bronx, have been warning store operators that confronting shoplifters can be dangerous.
“We tell them it is not worth getting hurt or even killed over a $3 gallon of milk,” said Officer Spinelli. “It can quickly escalate. Our advice is to call 911 instead.”
On a chilly day in mid-November, the officers made their rounds in the 44th Precinct, where bodegas, some adorned with colorful street murals, could be seen on almost every street block. Their first stop was at a Pioneer Supermarket, a larger than average corner store, where the owner, Dee Morel, 55, welcomed them with a smile.

Mr. Morel told the officers a man he recognized as a regular customer had walked out of the store a recent day without paying for sausages. A store manager had not stopped the man, but instead gave a surveillance video to the police, he said.

“I don’t let nothing slide,” Mr. Morel said. “You steal at my store, I want you arrested.”
Rita Clark, a longtime customer, said she relied on the store for necessities throughout the pandemic. “This young lady is here 24/7,” Mr. Morel said, gesturing at Ms. Clark with a giggle. “My customers are like my family.”
Ms. Clark said the officers’ presence was needed to deter crime at the local stores like Mr. Morel’s. “You want to feel safe,” she said.

Mr. Parekh, the manager at Crossbay Express, said the death of his co-worker has changed his perspective forever. He now closes at midnight instead of staying open 24 hours. “I don’t feel safe anymore,” he said.
Mr. Tarwala was an only child and sent most of his salary to his parents, who depended on him financially, Mr. Parekh said.
Unable to ship Mr. Tarwala’s remains to his native India because of the pandemic, Mr. Parekh said he streamed Mr. Tarwala’s funeral service over FaceTime so that his family in India could pay their last respects.
“He was the nicest guy,” Mr. Parekh said. “Everybody liked him here and now he’s gone, over some random robbery.”

Mr. Tarwala’s mother collapsed in grief and stopped watching as soon as the video went live, he said. Only his father remained online until the last shovelful of dirt covered his pale wooden coffin.

David Goldsmith

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NYC Murders Up Nearly 45% in 2020​

Year-end crime numbers for New York City show violence was up significantly in 2020.
There were 462 homicides in all of 2020 compared to 319 homicides in 2019, an increase of 143 or 44.8%.
There were 1,531 shooting incidents in 2020, up 97% from 777 incidents in 2019.
In those shooting incidents last year, 1,868 people were actually hit by bullets, an increase of 102% from the year before.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner Dermot Shea are expected to hold their yearend crime briefing next week to discuss the increases and plans to curb violence for 2021.

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Thieves Steal Outdoor Heater and Assault Worker Outside La Contenta on Norfolk Street​


Photo: Alex Valencia
Outdoor dining structure have become easy pickings for area criminals.
Two thieves filched the heater from the corral outside La Contenta on Norfolk Street last Monday (December 29), the restaurant manager tells us. We’re told that the pair staked out the scene at around 8:30am, then returned an hour later for the goods.
However, the cleaning guy was there at the time and allegedly tried to stop them. He was assaulted, before both fled. The victim is okay.



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Muggers fracture man’s jaw in broad-daylight attack in Manhattan​

Several muggers pummeled a 29-year-old man — fracturing his jaw — and then swiped his cell phone during a broad-daylight attack in the East Village this week, video released by cops shows.

The crew surrounded their victim at 1st Avenue and East 3rd Street around 12:40 p.m. Wednesday and punched him repeatedly, cops said.

In the video, released late Wednesday, he is shown on the ground during part of the attack. When he gets up, someone hits him in the face again.

The suspects grabbed the victim’s cell phone before taking off on East 3rd Street, police said.

The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, with a fractured jaw.

The muggers took off and were still on the loose Thursday.

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A-Train Ripper: Serial killer loose on subway, say cops

A lone madman is believed to have fatally stabbed two homeless people and slashed two others during a14-hour spree along the A train line, police said Saturday as they announced a massive manhunt for the bloodthirsty suspect.
The two murders happened on opposite ends of the line late Friday into Saturday – one in Inwood in Manhattan, the northernmost end, and another at the line’s southernmost spot, in the Rockaways in Queens— with both victims found slumped in pools of blood either in or under their subway seats.

Two surviving victims are helping police identify their attacker, preliminarily described by officials as a lighter skinned male standing just five-feet tall and wearing a face mask.

“Three of these incidents appear to be connected and the Detective Bureau is looking into the possibility that all four could have been committed by one individual,” Transit Chief Kathleen O’Reilly told reporters at a 2 p.m. press briefing at NYPD headquarters in lower Manhattan.
“We will work tirelessly to bring the individual or individuals to justice,” she said.
Officials released the following chronology:
-At 11:30 a.m. on Friday, a 67-year-old man was stabbed by a random attacker as he pushed his walker along the southbound platform at the A train’s 181st Street station in Washington Heights.
“I am going to kill you!” he told cops his attacker screamed, according to sources. He was stabbed in the right knee and left buttocks; while he required surgery, he is expected to survive the attack.
That attack is preliminarily believed to be connected to three subsequent attacks.

NYPD officers enter the A-train subway line at the Far Rockaway/Mott Avenue Station as it remains closed after a double murder which occurred in two different locations along the line.Matthew McDermott
-Twelve hours later, at 11:29 p.m. on Friday, a man was found stabbed to death but still slumped in his seat on an A train at Mott Avenue station in Far Rockaway.
He suffered stab wounds to his neck and torso, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
-Some two hours after that, at 1:15 a.m. Saturday, a 44-year-old woman was found sprawled dead, again in a pool of blood, under her subway seat inside an A train at the 207th Street station in Inwood.
She had been stabbed throughout her body.
-Shortly after that, at 1:28 a.m. Saturday, a 43-year-old man was randomly stabbed as he slept on a stairwell at the A train station at West 181st Street.

He stumbled to a nearby bank on W. 181st Street, but collapsed before entering the vestibule, cops said.
The victim is being treated at an area hospital for four puncture wounds to his back, and is in stable condition.
The 44-year-old woman was taken to New York Presbyterian-Allen Hospital, where she was declared dead, according to authorities.
It is the worst subway stabbing spree since June of 2006, when a homeless serial slasher injured four people on a 13-hour rampage on trains in Harlem and Rockefeller Center. His victims all survived.
And it is the worst mass-violence against the homeless since 2019, when four homeless men were bludgeoned to death in their sleep one night in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

“When this happened in October of 2019, we said then that unless the city and state work together” to create permanent, supported housing “more violence is going to come,” said Joseph Loonam, housing campaign coordinator for Vocal-NY.
“And we are heartbroken but not surprised to hear this has happened again.”
Shaken commuters at the A train’s Far Rockaway Mott Avenue station called for stepped-up security measures on Saturday, suggesting increased patrols and even metal detectors.
“It’s scary. It’s really scary. I’ve never felt safe on the subway, but I’ve always known I’ve had to take them,” said Marissa Augustus, 17.
“I’m scared for my life,” she added “Every time I get on the train, it’s empty,” said Revern Sharp, 45.
“There’s no police, so that gives them [the criminals] the jurisdiction to [do whatever] they want to do on the train. Smoke, drink, do whatever on the train, because they know no police are coming…
Maurice Moore, 33, said the subways are simply not safe at night anymore.
“The police should be here more often. When I go home late, there’s no cops here,” he said. “Between the hours of 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon you see them, but you don’t see them after that.”
The pandemic has meant fewer people — and cops — at the station, commuters said.
“People are jumping the turnstile, nobody pays for it no more. If you got a MetroCard, you stupid…You need more cops on the subway.”
Those who live and work by the 181st A train stop said the homeless problem too has mushroomed during the pandemic — and that’s also frightening.
“A lot of homeless people sleeping down there, like 40, 20. It’s scaring the kids, the women. The police don’t bother them,” said Abdul Mohammed, who works at the Fort Washington Candy and Grocery on 181st St.
“It’s scary to go down there,” he continued. “People sleeping, sh–ing on the subway. I’m scared from these people.”
Police at the scene where a woman was stabbed on the A subway train at the 207th Street subway station.Christopher Sadowski
Mayor de Blasio recently waved off NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea’s public concerns of a recent spate of subway attacks, which included a straphanger shoved onto the tracks.
“We had an incredible and total disruption in 2020. Our entire lives were turned upside down, a global pandemic, a perfect storm – and we are in the process of overcoming that,” de Blasio said earlier this month as he tried to explain away a doubling in subway murders.
The mayor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday and Saturday’s A train stabbing attacks.
Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, blamed City Hall for the surge, not New York’s Finest.
“Another failure by the mayor and those in charge of helping the homeless,” he said. “The transit system is not a homeless shelter and the police department’s role in helping has been diminished to say the least.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Vacant stores next door make NYC businesses burglary targets​

Crooks are making good use of the Big Apple’s empty storefronts — breaking through walls to get into businesses that are still up and running next door, a review by The Post has found.
With nearly half of small businesses closed citywide due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, crafty crooks are taking advantage by using shuttered shops to hit open stores after hours.

One small business owner in Queens called it “a perfect storm for any burglar.”
“I don’t leave money in the store anymore,” Sabri Dani, owner of Dani’s Pizza in Kew Gardens, said Monday. “I’m scared someone is going to break in.”
“Crime begets crime,” added city Councilman Mark Gjonaj, chairman of the council’s small business committee. “A vacant storefront begets another storefront. I feel like I’m watching a slow train wreck that I can’t stop.”
Just hours earlier, brazen thieves busted into the Davidoff of Geneva cigar shop in Midtown, making off with nearly $60,000 in pricey stogies after breaking in from the empty store next door, according to police.
But the Sixth Avenue retailer hasn’t been the only target.
On Feb. 9, a crook threw a brick through the front door of a store up for leasing on Staten Island and broke into the Dominican Food store next door on Forest Avenue, a worker there confirmed on Monday.
Two days earlier, thieves made off with nearly $10,000 from a Metro PCS store on Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn, getting inside by breaking through a hole in the wall of “an abandoned establishment” next door, police said.
Davidoff of Geneva cigar store was robbed after thieves broke in through a vacant storefront nextdoor.James Messerschmidt
On Jan. 16, burglars broke into AK Studios on Kings Highway in Brooklyn and stole “a quantity” of wigs and hair products after getting in from the empty building next door.
Thieves got into Broadway Deli & Grill in the Bronx on Dec. 23 by breaking through a basement wall from next door, police said.
Burglars also hit Philomena’s Pizzeria in Queens in October by climbing on the roof and breaking in through a kitchen wall, making off with $180, cops said.
“A burglary is a crime of opportunity, especially if the building is abandoned and the store next door has merchandise,” a police source told The Post. “If the building is abandoned, nobody is paying attention.”

“It’s a lot easier right now because the adjacent company doesn’t have an alarm,” the source said. “Burglars know that… It’s a very easy crime.”
In addition, many stores that are still operating are closing earlier during the pandemic, giving burglars more time to stake out businesses, Dani of Dani’s Pizza noted.
“That’s one of the reasons we don’t want vacancies,” added Phil Andrews, president of the Long Island African-American Chamber of Commerce.
“We have to protect property in the meantime,” Andrews said. “Burglars steal copper, silver, and metals from stores to take them to scrapyards and make money from them. They’ll steal equipment.”
Andrew Albert, former executive director of the West Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, said landlords face added costs by having to pay to repair damage done by burglars.
“Any vacant storeowner should have an alarm,” he said.