By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A man fought off two muggers who tried to snatch his iPad on Bennett Avenue last week, police said, the latest incident in a Upper Manhattan crime spike that has sent dozens of cops into the area and inspired residents to consider patrolling their own streets.
Bennett Avenue has been a hotspot for crime in recent weeks, particularly robberies. So much so that when the NYPD dispatched 60 extra officers to the neighborhood precinct in October, they beefed up patrols on the stretch as well.
But the extra manpower wasn't enough to deter two muggers who jumped a man for his iPad the night before Thanksgiving.
The victim told police he was followed home from the 190th Street A train station on Bennett Avenue, and then attacked on the sidewalk outside 273-295 Bennett Ave., near the corner of West 192nd Street, police said. The man managed to fight off his attackers, who fled without taking the device, police said.
Witnesses said they saw a pair of broken ear buds and what looked like a gun on the street following the struggle. Police said they recovered a cigarette lighter in the shape of a pistol at the crime scene, and are currently processing it for DNA evidence.
The victim was taken to the Allen Pavillion hospital and could not be reached for comment. His condition is unknown.
A spokesman for residents of the building where the attack took place said security camera footage of the attack was turned over to police.
Incidents of robbery, felony assault, rape and grand larceny are all up in the 34th Precinct, according to the most recent NYPD CompStat report for Nov. 14 to 21.
Precinct Captain Jose Navarro has said previously he was focusing many of the temporary infusion of 60 police officers to the precinct on patrols of Bennett Avenue.
At a precinct community council meeting in November, Navarro also touted the arrest of one man who was being eyed for several robberies on the block and other sections of Hudson Heights, calling the arrest "significant."
Residents said they plan to request a community meeting with the 34th Precinct to see what can be done to reduce the amount of crime in the area. Some residents are also thinking of forming a neighborhood watch on the block, taking a lead from residents in Inwood who formed a safety patrol after a spate of crime in that neighborhood.