CROWN HEIGHTS — The commanding officer of Crown Heights’ precinct says there are a handful of things giving him headaches in the neighborhood lately: fire escape burglaries, a bevy of new bars and expensive bikes.
“We were getting killed with bicycles being stolen,” Inspector Eddie Lott told attendees of the 77th Precinct Community Council on Monday night. “Believe it or not, there’s a market for bicycles. And that market was being fed, particularly along Washington [Avenue], Eastern Parkway, in and around that area.”
Grand larcenies, or thefts of property worth more than $1,000, had been on the rise in the 77th Precinct, he said, which covers Prospect Heights and Crown Heights from Vanderbilt to Ralph avenues between Eastern Parkway and Atlantic Avenue.
In the past month, grand larcenies in that area were up 28 percent, from 32 incidents in 2015 to 41 over the same time period this year, according to NYPD crime statistics.
Lott blames pricey bikes for the spike, saying he routinely sees reports for bikes worth thousands of dollars. But he thinks he's come up with a solution to nab the culprits red-handed, he said.
“[We] got some high-end bikes and we’ve been doing a little bit of what’s called ‘bait operations,'" he said at Monday’s meeting. "We’ve got some very young officers who look the part, they put the bicycles out in a hot area with the locks and we have observation. It’s like fishing in a barrel.”
Also challenging the precinct recently was a string of six fire escape burglaries on the eastern end of the precinct bordering Brownsville, two of which happened while “people were home,” Lott said. But he believes a series of “parolee visits” has put an end to that issue.
Moving forward, Lott is tackling a new crop of crimes: skirmishes that take place in and around the growing number of bars and clubs in the neighborhood.
“It seems like every day we’re getting a new bar or club [and] with that, crime,” he said.
To combat the trend, he is putting together a “club team” tasked with knowing the owners, managers and bouncers of each venue because “trouble starts … when you have to throw somebody out that’s being destructive.”
He said the team will focus on the western end of the neighborhood, to try "to keep up with all the clubs and bars" on Vanderbilt, Washington and Atlantic avenues, Lott said.
"We have techno parties here," he said a bit incredulously, referencing in particular the Black Party, a long running gay dance party he praised for working with the precinct to organize their annual event at a warehouse space at 1260 Atlantic Ave.
(Inspector Eddie Lott of the 77th Precinct, left, stands with with Aaron Clayton, producer of the Black Party, after the event in March.)
He said the rise in nightlife in the area is ultimately “a good thing,” but emphasized that it means the command has to remain vigilant.
“We have to respond and adapt as a precinct. And that’s what makes the 77th Precinct such a challenging place because the dynamics change, it seems like, weekly,” he said.