By Olivia Scheck
MANHATTAN — Central Park saw a startling increase in major crimes last year, according to NYPD statistics obtained by the non-profit organization NYC Park Advocates.
The overall number of incidents rose by a whopping 50 percent, from 65 in 2009 to 98 last year, according to the data.
Property theft fueled the rise, jumping by 25 incidents, but more serious crimes like rape and robbery also increased. There were seven reported incidents of rape in Central Park during 2010, compared to zero in 2009, the report said.
In Riverside Park, the number of felony assaults increased from one in 2009 to nine last year, the data showed.
"That's not people leaving their purses around parks," said NYC Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft. "This is a serious increase."
Croft warned that park crime is "only going to go up" as park jobs are lost to budget cuts.
"The mayor is proposing to lay off thousands of additional parks workers and that's a huge decrease in the eyes and ears around our parks," Croft said.
Inwood Hill park, for which no crimes had been reported in 2009, was the site of six major crimes, including two robberies and one rape, according to the data.