safest for all crime
100th/101st precinct / population 114,978
These beachfront communities in the southernmost part of Queens started out as seaside resorts and playgrounds for the wealthy in the 1830s, but went through a precipitous decline after World War II. Many of the area's hotels and businesses shuttered, and several of the bungalows that lined the peninsula were either razed or burned to the ground to make room for staid public housing and nursing-home developments, or for urban-renewal projects that often weren't built, leaving behind abandoned lots that essentially became dumping grounds.
The changing economic fortunes of this area had varying effects on its crime rates. The 101st Precinct, with its high rises and housing projects in the eastern section of the peninsula and in Far Rockaway — one of the largest concentrations of public housing in the city — was hit hard by crime and drug use. In 1993, the area had nearly 2,850 incidents of major crime, including about 710 robberies, 800 burglaries and 460 car thefts, compared to 121 robberies, 136 burglaries and 78 car thefts, respectively, for the same categories in 2010.
The 100th Precinct, with the insular, gated community of Breezy Point on the western end and affluent Belle Harbor in the middle, had significantly less crime, even at the height of the crack epidemic.
Crime in both precincts has declined dramatically, dropping nearly 80 percent, from 1993 to 2010. That improvement was good enough to rank the Rockaways as the 10th safest neighborhood for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report.
Violent crimes had a steep fall, with robberies plunging around 80 percent during that period. In recent years, there has been an influx into the eastern Rockaways, with 5,500 residents added in 2005 — more than the area's growth in the 1980s and 90s combined.
Still, troubling trends persist. The 101st Precinct had six times the number of murders as the 100th in 2010, nearly five times the number of shootings, with 24, and roughly double the number of felony assaults. In 2010, the Rockaways had the city's third-lowest property crime rate, but car thefts were up 18 percent for the two precincts combined.
Increase in burglaries from 2009 to 2010
Decrease in murders from 2009 to 2010
Photo: Facebook/Stack Bundles
Far Rockaway rapper "Stack Bundles," whose real name was Rayquon Elliott (pictured), finished a performance at Club Stereo, in Manhattan, on June 11, 2007, and headed home. After a meal at White Castle, a friend dropped him off at his apartment building, on Beach Channel Drive near Hassock Street, around 4 a.m. Two shots rang out. The friend ran into the lobby and found that Stack Bundles had been fatally shot in the head. His wallet was intact, but a gold medallion was missing. Just more than a month later, Lee Woods, 29, who had grown up in Far Rockaway, was arrested in connection with the murder of Police Officer Russel Timoshenko, and emerged as a prime suspect in the Stack Bundles murder. Woods was never charged with the crime, however, but he was later convicted of Timoshenko's murder and is now serving life plus 40 years in prison.
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