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Theories about crime near our block

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  • Theories about crime near our block

    Hi everyone. I just moved onto 15th bet 7th and 8th, which I am finding charming (trees!) and fairly peaceful. I was perusing the forums and noticing the robberies and muggings that have been mentioned. Thought I'd venture a guess. Others should do the same.

    I love having a 24hr entrance to the ACEL station right on the block, as well as the 123 down on 14th. However, I do notice a decent number of (for lack of a more sensitive term) unsavory characters hanging out, or strolling and asking for change, on 8th between 14th and 16th, as well as on 15th bet 7th and 8th. A few muggings have recently been reported in the area as well. My feeling is that its proximity to such a large, multi-route express subway station makes the block ripe for a mugging and quick getaway, or at least a convenient stroll for station stragglers.

    Interestingly enough, I used to live on the much less residential, and desolate-at-night 25th bet 6th and 7th. Walking home late at night, I rarely encountered would-be muggers or felt unsafe. At club closing time (this block had no clubs but was right in between two clubby areas), rowdy-as-hell patrons would make a ruckus while getting into the cars they'd parked on my block. Once in a while there would be a shouting match, but no violence. There's a hotel towards 7th, and some music studios midblock, outside of which some hip hop producers and artists would hang and park their SUVs. That probably made the block safer, as they were peaceful and their presence would probably deter a mugger from striking.

    Back to 15th bet 7th and 8th, though. This block is almost all residential and tree-lined, and apparently right on the border of several police precincts with diminished staffing. Less commercial traffic and the 24hr subway entrance probably make this nice block a little more susceptible to criminality than we might like to think. Not trying to be paranoid, just logical!

    I was mugged once, back in 2002, while walking up Morton St. between Hudson and 7th Ave late on a Monday. A minute after passing a group of guys, they snuck up behind me and knocked me out. They were later caught after pulling the same thing on similarly nice, quiet, tree-lined streets in the Village. Their escape route? Catch the nearest L back to Brooklyn (said the cops. My emptied wallet was found in the 8th Ave L station).

    So I guess it behooves us to be extra alert on the quiet, residential blocks.

    Anyone else care to share experiences, tips and/or theories?

  • #2
    Re: Theories about crime near our block

    Josh, first - welcome to the site. And thanks for this interesting post. I think you make a great point about the subways and quiet blocks. I always get more nervous as the blocks get quieter. Quiet blocks are definitely more scary. But I think you raise a good point that a quiet block near a busy subway station could be doubly dangerous. Definitely something to keep in mind while walking around at night.

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    • #3
      Re: Theories about crime near our block

      Welcome, Josh.

      You know, the point about quiet blocks/subway entrances is a good one. A friend of mine once told me that in the 70s, a lot of people avoided walking down Central Park West at night. Muggers there would use Central Park and the subway entrances as their launching points and escape routes--they'd grab a purse and vanish into the darkness and there would be no way to find them. On the other hand, a subway entrance does add to legitimate traffic on the block, and it's safer for the subway passengers (I know for myself, I much prefer to be able to exit the subway late nights immediately, rather than having to walk along a deserted platform or concourse to the only open exit) so it's a double edged sword.

      I definitely agree--I know that I personally feel safer late nights on the blocks where there is activity. When there are open stores and a fair amount of traffic, you feel like less of a target.

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      • #4
        Re: Theories about crime near our block

        I agree that quieter and less trafficed blocks are a bit scarier however a number of years back I was held up right in front of my apt on 23rd St at about 5:00pm and it was still light outside. I'm disabled and walk with crutches, I was getting into a friends car and the person decided to help me with the car door. Nice gesture or so I thought until I got into the car and had a gun put to my chest. Needless to say he got our money and took off. Unfortunately since that incident I am very wary of anyone I don't know helping me if they see me struggling with a bag or something. I always feel terrible after the fact and don't want people to think I'm ungrateful but that one incident lefft a lasting impression on me and I always feel like a target.

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        • #5
          Re: Theories about crime near our block

          Wow, Jim... that's quite a story. Sadly, it was actually a clever way to rub someone. Nobody passing by would really see what was happening.

          As for being suspicious of others trying to help you out, do you feel that your intuition and read on people has improved?

          After I was mugged, I definitely didn't want to be scared every time I encountered a stereotypically suspicious looking group of guys in a desolate area, but I found that my radar became much more sensitive. I could walk by a sketchy looking situation and feel fine -- OR, as had happened once when I lived down in the Fulton St. area, I saw two guys over a block away, immediately got this 6th sense feeling, and crossed the street and took another route. Who cares if I appeared scared? As I walked away, I actually saw them start to accost (or possibly mug) somebody! Just at that moment, an unmarked cop car drove past me (the streets were so quiet down there at night), and I waved him over to tell him what I saw.

          I am of hearty stock and try to carry myself well. If I am walking alone in a sketchy area, I just *am* a black belt, savage street fighter ( - I am not any of those things, but internalizing that attitude projects a "definitely mess with someone OTHER than me, buddy" vibe). I feel fortunate to be of decent physical health.

          Still, it remains that one must listen to that intuition, that 6th sense. It can fail us, though. We just have to use our resources and play our cards in a way with which we feel comfortable.

          Man, this is so part of New York street subtlety. It's like when you see friends from out of town turning down a beggar way too politely, and getting sucked into conversation. I tell them, "look, there are times and places to help out a fellow human, but there are so many other people that they can approach. Do you want to risk that they are waiting to rip you off the moment you open your wallet, for the chance to feel better about yourself for a few minutes by giving out money?" I mostly take this attitude with my out of town friends because I know they haven't developed any of this intuition.

          To globalize this train of thought, the ever-increasing polarization of wealth, skewing of resources, delocalization, and fascist leanings of this city, country, and the world at large don't make any of this easier.

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          • #6
            Re: Theories about crime near our block

            "...and apparently right on the border of several police precincts with diminished staffing."

            Josh has it right. The NYPD is at an historically low staffing level. Additionally, precious resources are being allocated to fighting "terrorism," instead of into community policing. It has been unequivocally proven that community policing is the most effective crime prevention strategy. Without police presence on the streets, chaos takes over. I am certain that most Chelsea residents have noticed a marked upswing of undesirebales in the area.

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            • #7
              Re: Theories about crime near our block

              Being a native NYer I tend to be sort of streetwise always turning to see who is behind me. I walk around mostly wearing a fannypack as it is a way of life here not havingto worry about someone grabbing my purse. I especially love the fanny pack for dining in a restaurant as I imagine that poor out of towner that leaves their bag on the chair or floor and someone walks off with it. There certainly are more characters on the street here lately and yes most of them seem to be harmless but you still sort of walk past quickly and play uninterested in giving a handout. What gets me are the ones passed out drunk under that scafolding. Some have their belongings in suitcases. Some stand in front of the laundry mat as it is just another way of life for them. For the most part its just best to ignore them and go on your merry way as they may have mental conditions. It's really the ones on drugs that makethis city full ofcrime.

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              • #8
                Re: Theories about crime near our block

                Momjo:

                All very good points. Native NYer or not, it is certainly the prudent thing to always be on your guard. As I stated in my prior post, the re-focus of the NYPD on counterterrorism instead of quality of life policing is partly to blame for the appearance of disorder, and rise in street crime, in NYC. There are of course other reasons: decreased funding for social service programs, drug addiction (as you stated), the increasing difference between the rich and poor, easy access to weapons, etc.

                However, it is still my belief that the best and most effective way to reduce crime is to follow the "broken windows" theory of policing: to begin enforcement at the lowest levels of crime. Bust the fare-evaders and street drinkers and check them for warrants. You may catch or prevent a murder. It is important to give criminals the impression that the NYPD has a zero-tolerance attitude on crime. NYers are much more likely to be the victim of street crime than a terrorist attack!

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                • #9
                  Re: Theories about crime near our block

                  Catalyst, I've been banging the "more police patrols" drum on this site for a while now. Many of my neighbors seem to be about as responsive to the concept as the police themselves. It's frustrating.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Theories about crime near our block

                    More patrol presence has been proven to work! Believe me, I was no fan of the Giuliani administration, but they were certainly better on street crime than the current admin. Let's get real: all of the funds diverted to fighting terrorism are just wasted. Education is the only way to prevent terrorism.

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