INWOOD — A man was mugged by four teenagers while walking to meet his sister and niece at a tree lighting ceremony at Bruce’s Garden in Isham Park Wednesday evening, police said.
The teenage attackers — three boys and a girl — made off with the man's iPhone and wallet after a scuffle on the southern end of Isham Park at approximately 6:15 p.m. while dozens of Inwood residents gathered at the greenspace's northern end to celebrate the holidays, according to police and the victim.
Several police officers and the commanding officer of the 34th Precinct were also in attendance at the tree lighting ceremony.
The man was walking through the southeastern edge of the park and had called his sister to ask if she needed anything from the store when he saw the teens approach him. He tried to fight them off, injuring his right leg in the process, but they grabbed his belongings and ran out of the park.
After reporting the crime to two officers he found at the northern end of the park, the police drove the victim around Inwood in an attempt to identify the muggers, to no avail.
“This is awful,” said the victim’s sister, who asked not to be identified since the suspects were still at large. “He was coming home with all of his money from work in his wallet. I can’t believe this happened.”
Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti said the precinct would continue to increase patrols in and around the park as it has for the past several weeks in light of a recent rise in muggings, particularly of iPhones.
The pricey Apple smartphones have become a hot item for muggers. One thief roaming Morningside Heights, near Columbia University, will steal only iPhones, returning his victims' BlackBerrys. Another mugger is targeting victims on the Upper East Side.
Hours after the mugging, police cars looped around the Park Terrace area with their squad car lights blazing as they patroled the area.
Inwood residents voiced concern about an uptick in crime in the area, especially in light of the recent thwarted mugging of an Inwood family by a group of teenagers who brandished what appeared to be a fake gun on Saturday night.
“It’s getting to the point where I don’t even feel it’s safe to walk around in a group,” said Derian Zallow, 32, as she walked her small dog on Park Terrace East. “I mean, part of the park is filled with cops and something like this happens? How do we stop this from happening again?”