FOREST HILLS — Felony assaults in Forest Hills and Rego Park have increased by a staggering 164 percent in the last year, according to NYPD statistics.
In April, three suspects stole a blind woman's wallet in the Forest Hills subway station, and earlier this month two men were caught on camera forcing their way into a Forest Hills apartment and trying to rob a victim at gunpoint.
Misdemeanor assaults and robberies in the 112th Precinct, which encompasses Forest Hills and Rego Park, have also increased in the last year, according to NYPD statistics.
There were 37 reported felony assaults in the 112th Precinct as of the week ending May 20, 2012, compared to 14 felony assaults during that same period in 2011, according to NYPD statistics.
A spokesman for the precinct blamed the increase in part to a change in assault statutes, which now classify crimes that previously were considered misdemeanors as felonies.
City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents the two neighborhoods, believes the increase in crime can also be attributed to the recession.
"While the rise in assaults at the 112th Precinct is very disturbing, we need to take into consideration the tough economic climate, which often leads to a spike in crime," Koslowtiz said in a statement.
"I would like to see more cops on the streets, and in our precincts, to ensure the safety of our neighborhood."
But even with the dramatic increase in crime, the precinct is still one of the safest in the city, authorities said.
"I like to talk about Queens being the safest borough in the safest large city in America," said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. "The 112th [Precinct] is probably the safest precinct in the county."
Brown noted that violent crime in Queens has gone down drastically in the last 20 years.
In 1990, there were more than 7,000 felonies in the 112th Precinct. Last year, there were just 924.
"We as prosecutors are entitled to share in the credit," Brown said, "though, obviously the lions' share of the credit gowns to the police department."