NEW YORK — The number of anti-Semitic hate crimes reported to the NYPD rose by a staggering 94 percent this year compared to the same period a year ago, officials announced Wednesday.
There were 35 anti-Semitic incidents reported between the start of the year and Feb. 26, a 94 percent increase compared to 18 cases recorded during the same period in 2016, NYPD officials said Wednesday.
Anti-Semitic incidents are behind a rise in the number of hate crimes overall, which are up 55 percent this year, with 68 incidents in 2017 as of Feb. 26 compared to 44 last year, NYPD statistic show.
Hate crimes this year include six incidents where the victims were targeted for being black, three where the victims were white, three involving Muslim victims and eight incidents motivated by sexual orientation, according to NYPD.
The NYPD could not immediately provide details about the 35 anti-Semitic cases from this year.
A year-to-date chart of the NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force cases by motivation for the period of Jan. 1 – Feb. 26. (Credit: NYPD)
"Hate crimes are up in this city. They're driven primarily by anti-Semitic hate crimes," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in a news conference at Astoria's 114th Precinct on Wednesday.
Boyce also noted there were recently four bomb threats made to "Jewish locations." Of these, two were at Jewish community centers, one was at a museum and the fourth took place last week at the headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League in Midtown Manhattan.
The NYPD did not provide details on where and when the others took place, or if they include an incident Monday in which a man called in a bomb threat at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island.
It wasn't clear if these four incidents are included in the statistics for the period ending Feb. 26, but they were all deemed unfounded, according to officials, who believe they're related to similar threats at Jewish sites across the nation.
"We believe that's part of a nationwide pattern," Boyce said. "We've spoken with the FBI in regards to specific verbiage used in each one."
NYPD officials say police officers are making additional visits to Jewish community centers and places of worship in response to the jump in anti-Semitic crimes.
"We want to provide a sense of safety," NYPD Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said. "We're going to continue this and actually increase it as we near Passover."
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the threats "very troubling and unsettling," and said they're taking place "against a backdrop of growing numbers of anti-Semitic instances all over this country and all over this world."
"I want everyone who is concerned to know that NYPD is highly focused, as it always is, on protecting all communities," he said.
Last year, the NYPD reported a spike in the number of hate crimes in the city following the presidential election, though officials told reporters earlier this month that the rise appeared to leveling off.
The most recent statistics come as overall crime in the city was down 9.7 percent during the month of February compared to 2016, officials said.
But murders were up during that period, from 20 this year to 18 a year ago, according to police statistics.
There were also 40 shooting incidents last month — in what officials say is the lowest number for any month on record — compared to 62 during February 2016.