safest for all crime

jackson heights & east elmhurst

Photo: Tiphanie Colon-Lamontanaro

115th precinct / population 171,576

Once dubbed the "cocaine capital" of Queens (possibly due to its easy access to parkways and LaGuardia Airport), Jackson Heights is now a redoubt of low crime and neighborhood pride. Indian women dressed in colorful flowing saris walk down 74th Street in Jackson Heights past jewelry stores and curry houses. And more South Asian families arrive every day to the side streets, lined with frame houses, along with newcomers from South America and East Asia. The ever-changing face of New York is on show in this middle-class neighborhood, where recent low rates of crime have led to a major boom in property values.

Jackson Heights also is home to the second-largest gay and lesbian community in the city after Greenwich Village. It has had its own gay-pride parade since 1993, the creation of which was in response to the 1990 murder of 29-year-old Julio Rivera in Jackson Heights, who was beaten and stabbed because he was gay.

Today, the 115th Precinct, which also covers neighboring East Elmhurst, is ranked the 20th safest area for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, with 103 major crimes per 10,000 residents in 2010.

As in most neighborhoods, crime has dropped from 1993 to 2010, with major crimes down 76 percent, led by an 86 percent plunge in murders and a 74 percent drop in robberies. Rape declined 8 percent in that time period. Property crimes have diminished as well, as they have in other neighborhoods with rising home values.

Car thefts were down 89 percent and burglaries 85 percent. Jackson Heights ranks 18th safest in 2010 for the property thefts category. The only recent blemish in the overall positive picture has been a 14 percent rise in felony assaults from 2008 to 2010.

The year 2010 was another reasonably safe one in the 115th Precinct, with crime falling less than 1 percent, and with little change in most categories of crime. There were just three murders, down from eight the year before. There was a slight rise in car thefts, leading to a 3 percent increase from 2009 to 2010, to 242 from 236.