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Hurricane Sandy Helped Drive Upper East Side Crime Spike, Cops Say

By DNAinfo Staff on January 8, 2013 10:04am

 Capt. Ted Berntsen, 19th Precinct commanding officer, told attendees at Jan. 7, 2013's Community Council meeting that identity theft is a big problem.
Capt. Ted Berntsen, 19th Precinct commanding officer, told attendees at Jan. 7, 2013's Community Council meeting that identity theft is a big problem.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Bekiempis

UPPER EAST SIDE — The neighborhood saw a nearly 11 percent spike in crime last year, fueled by double-digit increases in grand larceny, rape and felony assault — some of which were attacks on medical workers by Hurricane Sandy patients, according to NYPD data.

However, robbery, burglary and murder were down — with the 19th precinct one of six in the city not to have any reported murders in 2012, commanding Officer, Capt. Ted Berntsen, said.

The statistics were a mix of "good news and bad news," Berntsen said at a Community Council meeting Monday.

The neighborhood saw a 16.9 percent increase in grand larceny, with 1,443 cases in 2012 compared to 1,236 in 2011, according to NYPD statistics.

The majority of these grand larcenies involved some type of identity theft, Bernsten said.

Felony assault increased by 11 percent, with 120 reported in 2012 and 108 in 2011. Berntsten said that nine of the assaults involved police officers who had been attacked during arrests.

Others, he said, were attacks on medical workers by patients after Hurricane Sandy, when Lenox Hill and New York-Presbyterian Hospitals absorbed overflow from Bellevue and other area centers. Berntsen said that the uptick was temporary.

There were 16 reported rapes in 2012 and 14 in 2011, marking a 14.3 percent increase. But Berntsen said that the attacks were not on strangers.

"All 16 were acquaintance rapes," Berntsen said, also noting that the number was within the range of the past several years. "They had a connection with the victim."

Some minor crimes also happened with greater frequency: petit larceny and misdemeanor assault also went up by 6.3 and 11.4 percent, respectively.

But misdemeanor sexual assault dropped by 28 percent, statistics indicate.

Berntsen said that identity theft was a problem he's been trying to root out with the help of residents, he said.

According to Berntsen, approximately half of the suspects responsible for identity theft in the Upper East Side live in the neighborhood and many attacks take place online against UES residents, he said.

Echoing other officers in the 19th, Berntsen said that prevention was key — from shredding junk mail to keeping an eye on one's belongings.

"Laptops, they're a big thing," Berntsen said, explaining that criminals often get personal info from unattended personal electronics. "[People] seem to leave them everywhere, at the library, at Starbucks."

Upper East Side resident David Rosenstein, 68, said he feels like he can't be too careful.

"I shred everything," he said. "I'm a little bit paranoid, but I'm scrupulous about privacy."