safest for all crime

lower east side & chinatown

Photo: Tiphanie Colon-Lamontanaro

5th/7th precincts / population 108,923

Chinatown, with its winding streets full of dim sum restaurants, discount bus companies, green grocers and fish shops, is no longer a battle ground for rival Chinese gangs, who waged bloody turf wars in the 1970s and 80s. Shooting incidents were down 96 percent from 1993 to 2010, and gang-related incidents dropped 46 percent in 2010, to 20 from 37. To the north is the Lower East Side, where the once-dominant Jewish population has ceded space to Hispanic families and to a thriving nightlife scene for a largely under-40 crowd.

The 5th and 7th Precincts, which cover the neighborhoods, have seen total major crimes decline by 70 percent or more ifrom 1993 to 2010, led by a combined 91 percent plunge in car thefts and 86 percent drop in robberies. All other major crimes have declined during this period as well. The trend has slowed, however, with the area's crime rate remaining even from 2009 to 2010, earning the neighborhoods a rank of 48th safest out of 69 in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report.

The area ranks in the middle for most crimes, faring slightly better in almost all categories than the East Village & Alphabet City, the neighborhoods with which it is most often compared. For violent crime, the area is 38th safest. Murders remain low, with two registed in 2010 compared with three in 2009. Rapes spiked in Chinatown by 67 percent in 2010, from six to 10, but remained level in the Lower East Side, at 11.

In the two neighborhoods, robberies were down 17 percent in 2010, from 283 to 236. Overall felony assaults declined by 11 percent in 2010, to 254, but the Lower East Side registered a 39 percent upswing for the category from 2008 to 2010, to 126.

While drug gangs plagued the areas during the 1980s, narcotic arrests were down 71 percent in the 17 years to 2010, from nearly 2,500 in 1993 to 712 last year. Drug gang activity, however, rose 24 percent in 2010 in the Lower East Side.

The neighborhoods do not perform as well on property crimes, ranking 55th for this category, thanks in particular to some increasing rates in the Lower East Side. Grand larceny was up 22 percent in the Lower East Side in the nine years since 2001, when the neighborhood began its transition into a late-night playground teeming with bars and clubs, and was up 10 percent in 2010 for Chinatown. While burglaries were down 10 percent last year in Chinatown, to 127 from 141, the rate increased a whopping 35 percent in the Lower East Side, to 101 from 75.