CROWN HEIGHTS — It's the Bermuda Triangle of crime.
Straddling four police precincts and the border between Brooklyn's North and South patrol boroughs, Crown Heights' Lincoln Terrace Park has become a gangsters' paradise for petty thieves who prey on victims in one precinct and thwart law enforcement by escaping through another, police said.
"[After committing a crime in Crown Heights' 77th Precinct] if I go to the left I’m in the 73, if I got to the right I'm in the 71, and if I go straight I’m in the 67," explained Capt. Edward Lott, the new commanding officer of the 77th Precinct, while speaking to residents at a community council meeting Monday night.
"If I go to the right, I'm in a different [radio] division. If I go to the left, I’m in a completely different patrol borough."
The hodgepodge of jurisdictions and radio divisons surrounding the park often makes the difference between arrest and freedom just a matter of steps for savvy criminals.
"It’s definitely fertile ground for people snatching cell phones," Lott said. "It’s a beautiful park, and it's a very lively park, but we’ve had to police that."
Rerouting resources to the far eastern edge of the neighborhood marks a departure for the precinct, which had previously devoted more manpower to the area's rapidly gentrifying western half.
"When I got to the precinct, everything was about Brower Park, but [crime] has been a lot more prominent at Lincoln Terrace Park," Lott said.
"I’ve made it a detail — for the summertime, particularly, I had a sergeant and five cops assigned there. You don’t want too make things seem like an armed fortress, but the park’s for children and you want to maintain that atmosphere."
Thieves tend to strike the park in the late afternoon and early evening, when athletes gather to practice and kids come out to play, he said.
"It’s in that flux time," Lott said. "The average crime at Lincoln Terrace Park happens between 4:30 and 9 at night. That seemed to be when you had the most people in the park, particularly in the summertime."
Even with the extra officers, officials fear the bustling park could become an even hotter target now that local schools are back in session.
"Young kids going back to school, they’ve got new clothes, new cell phones," Lott said. "Now with school coming back, we want to keep that visibility."