safest for all crime

melrose & morrisania

42nd precinct / population 79,762

Once lumped in with the crime-ravaged South Bronx, the Melrose and Morrisania neighborhoods, in the southwestern section of the borough, are now among the fastest-growing parts of New York.

People are leaving other neighborhoods in the city to live in the area, and much of that has to do with the crime rate, which has dropped by 73 percent from 1993 to 2010. Burglary led the improvements among all crime categories in the 42nd Precinct, which covers Melrose and Morrisania, with an 86 percent drop during that 17-year period. Robberies fell 75 percent, followed by 74 percent declines in both rapes and car thefts.

Today, where abandoned lots, burned-out cars and empty buildings once stood, there are new shops, restaurants and housing developments. Public housing projects dominated the area for decades, but multi-unit townhouses are now sprouting up. Even the most jaded residents acknowledge that things are looking up.

But, as in many of the toughest New York City neighborhoods, recovery is not complete. Many signs of the bad old days remain, and in 2010 crime edged back up. Robberies jumped 21 percent, to 324 incidents from 267. Felony assaults were up by 5 percent, to 318 from 303, and car thefts rose 4 percent, to 123 from 118, during that year. Those increases pushed the overall crime rate up by 3 percent in 2010.

The good news is that murders continue to fall, from 15 in 2009 to 13 in 2010, while shooting incidents decreased by 13 percent, from 48 to 42 over the same period. And even though misdemeanor sex crimes skyrocketed by 53 percent, to 49 from 32, reported rapes declined 17 percent, to 20 instances from 24. As a result, Melrose and Morrisania rank 45th in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, with 148 reported crimes per 10,000 residents.