CROWN HEIGHTS — After a dramatic drop this summer, burglaries are back up in Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, a trend police say they hope to reverse before the holidays.
"We were doing very well in burglaries, but we had a really prolonged fall, so what seemed to happen was that people left their fire escape windows open," said Capt. Eddie Lott, commanding officer of the 77th Precinct.
"Because we were having 60- and 70-degree heat in September and October, we started to have that happen again."
Although burglaries are down nearly 10 percent in the precinct so far this year compared to 2012, NYPD statistics show they increased this fall.
There were 49 burglaries in the precinct between Oct. 6 and Nov. 10, compared to 33 during the same period last year, according NYPD data shared with Community Board 8.
Lott said burglars like to target the northern swath of Prospect Heights and Crown Heights because most residents there are gone during the day.
"The 77th Precinct is a very dynamic command, and it’s a working command. Bad guys know that — they realize that from 7 o'clock in the morning to 7 o'clock at night, a large percent of our command goes to work," Lott explained. "We have people that live in our community that all they do is probe. If I pry 10 windows, I only need one [to be open]."
The precinct is also grappling with the recent loss of several trainee officers, which has meant making tweaks to the district's two Impact Zones, or areas that have been identified as hotspots for crime, and receive extra officers and resources as a result. One of the 77th Precinct's Impact Zones covers the bustling commercial corridors at Franklin and Nostrand avenues, while the other covers the blocks surrounding the Utica Avenue transit hub.
"The Impact officers...it’s kind of like a training program — they do their six months, and then they go to their respective precincts," Lott said. "Last time when our Impact officers moved on, we got seven officers, but this time we only got four."
That's meant a reduction in the police force in both Impact Zones, Lott said.
"We had to kind of constrict our zones," Lott said. "[NYPD administrators] proposed that we get rid of the zones, and we said absolutely not."
Instead, the precinct shortened Impact hours on one side of the district and cut the number of avenues covered by the other.
"The western one, we made it linear," consolidating heavy police presence to just Franklin and Nostrand avenues, Lott said. "The eastern zone, I actually changed the hours a little bit. We moved their hours from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m., to 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.…this way with [the] holiday season upon us, [officers] will be there as people come home from work."