INWOOD — A group of teenagers attacked and robbed a woman as she walked along a path in Inwood on Monday afternoon, witnesses said.
The woman was crossing a pathway that links Seaman Avenue and Park Terrace West, between Isham and 214th streets, at approximately 3:15 p.m. when she was surrounded by a group of approximately 10 teens who taunted her, threw her to the ground and yanked her hair.
“I thought it was a fight between teenagers at first,” said a 51-year-resident of Inwood who witnessed the attack and asked to remain anonymous. “It was shocking to see, they kept lifting her head by the hair and bashing her head against the sidewalk.”
“I felt so helpless,” the witness later said. “You see this kind of stuff on TV, but in all the years I’ve lived here I’ve never seen something like that in person.”
The witness said that the victim ran after the group of boys after they stole her iPhone, before police confronted the group near Isham Street and Park Terrace West, police said.
Police said they arrested one juvenile in connection with the attack and were looking for others involved in the incident.
"This is a concern for us. Kids come to our precinct, many of whom do not live in or go to school here, to do this kind of thing," Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti of the 34th Precinct said
The victim was taken away in a New York-Presbyterian ambulance. She was treated for her injuries and released, police said.
According to Buzzetti, police met Tuesday to discuss ways to curtail robberies of this kind, including expanded truancy patrols and "targeting cell phone stores that may be benefiting from the proceeds of such thefts."
Neighbors said the attack shocked them, especially as it took place during a busy time in the afternoon. They said it reflected the highly publicized growing crime rate in the area and highlighted a need for more police in the area, or an Inwood-dedicated police precinct.
Although overall crime is up in the 34th Precinct, robbery rates have practically stayed the same as last year, with 196 incidents reported this year as opposed to 194 last year, according to NYPD statistics for the week of Sept. 12-18.
DNAinfo.com's recently released Crime & Safety Report ranks Inwood as ninth safest of 17 neighborhoods in Manhattan for violent crimes, and 37th safest for violent crimes of 69 neighborhoods citywide. The report, which uses the NYPD's CompStat database, counts 220 felony assaults for the 34th precinct in 2010.
“What are we supposed to do if we can’t even leave our houses in the middle of the afternoon?” asked one neighborhood parent who wanted to remain anonymous and who picks up her children at Good Sheperd school, just steps from where the attack took place.
“This isn’t an isolated attack, we’ve been battling this kind of issue for years now. What will it take, someone getting killed before someone does something about it?” the woman asked.