safest for all crime
52nd precinct / population 139,307
These ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the northwest Bronx have long been among the borough's safest. Lately, however, there have been signs of trouble. Norwood, almost entirely surrounded by green spaces, was known for years as an Irish enclave, but is now home to a wide array of ethnic groups. Working-class Bedford Park is equally diverse and prides itself on its sense of community.
In the 17 years from 1993 to 2010, serious crime has dropped 70 percent in the 52nd Precinct, which covers Norwood and Bedford Park. Car thefts alone have declined by 87 percent and burglaries by 82 percent. But some residents have complained that things are starting to sour, and the NYPD's crime numbers are confirming some of those fears.
Shooting have been climbing since 2001, and increased 39 percent from 2009 to 2010. Murder shot up by 57 percent in 2010, to 11 incidents from seven; rapes and felony assaults jumped by 13 percent each, from 24 and 403 to 27 and 455, respectively. Grand larcenies edged up by less than 2 percent.
Early in 2011, the commanding officer of the precinct was transferred amid questions about not only the crime increase, but also his purported involvement in a ticket-fixing scheme.
Drugs and prostitution continue to pester parts of the area. Along with the increase in rapes, misdemeanor sex crimes were up by 26 percent from 2009 to 2010 and by 41 percent in the two years since 2008, although police have launched aggressive crackdowns. Still, the overall crime rate declined by just under 2 percent in 2010, thanks to sharp declines in burglaries and car thefts. That drop earned Norwood and Bedford Park a ranking of 49th total safest neighborhood for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report.
Increase in murders from 2009 to 2010
Drop in car theft from 2001 to 2010
Photo: Ken Stein/Runs With Scissors Photography
On March 19, 1991, Paula Soto, 19, was warming up for a varsity softball game on a baseball diamond at Lehman College, when she suddenly collapsed with a bullet wound. She died four hours later on the operating table. No one heard the shot, and no one saw the shooter. It would take more than two years before cops finally found the answers. In August 1993, one of Sinclair's classmates called a confidential NYPD tip line and identified Lawrence Sinclair as the shooter. Cops later learned that Sinclair had confessed to a potential employer that he had fired shots from a subway train and killed someone. The anonymous tipster had been riding the No. 4 subway train home from Dewitt Clinton High School, along Jerome Avenue, with Sinclair, then 17, when Sinclair stepped between cars and fired a single shot from a .22-caliber handgun. The bullet traveled more than 150 yards, clearing trees and a fence, before striking Soto, puncturing her liver, lungs, aorta and spleen. Sinclair was convicted of manslaughter in 1995 and sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.
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