NYC neighborhoods are on edge with the recent spike in crime

New York City’s crime wave has seeped into a quiet corner of Queens known for bustling shops and heavy foot traffic — some locals tell the Post they’ve felt so unsafe for decades.

The Flushing enclave, covered by the NYPD’s 109th Precinct, has seen a shocking rise in robberies and grand larceny that has workers and businesspeople on edge.

“The area is terrible. It’s getting so bad,” said Monica Ortiz, the store manager at GNC on Flushing’s Main Street.

“I’ve lived in the area for 30 years and I’ve never felt so unsafe.”

Ortiz said she’s worked in the health and nutrition business for the past two decades, but the number of robberies has increased over the past two years.

“I have not seen this situation before. The way it is now — never,” she told the Post on Wednesday.

According to NYPD statistics, the area had to deal with 288 reported robberies in the first 11 months of 2022, a 113% increase from the same time last year.

NYC police vehicle
New York City’s crime spree has trickled into a quiet corner of Queens known for its dense pedestrian traffic.
Wayne Carrington

The increase was particularly pronounced in the last four weeks, with 30 robberies compared to 11 in the same 28-day period in 2021.

Meanwhile, there have been up to 1,400 grand thefts so far this year, compared with 828 between January and November 2021, a 69% increase.

A senior police source told The Post that the area was “struggling” as workers and residents complained of increased attacks and palpable fear.

A 74-year-old security guard at a Marshalls on College Point Boulevard – part of The Shops at SkyView mall – was attacked by two thieves in October, who pushed him into the store and took his bag.

“So many people are stealing from other people,” the guard, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Post over the phone Wednesday.

Other workers at Skyview’s shops said crime was rampant.

“It’s thieves coming in and trying their luck every day,” said Fred, a security guard at the Nike clearance store. “It’s not even just here. It’s all over the mall.”

Fred, who declined to give his last name, added: “There are always people who steal. People come in here every day and try to steal.”

A regular with sticky fingers even walks in and nudges the goods in heaps.

A security guard named Fred works at the Nike Clearance Store in the Shops at SkyView.
Fred, a security guard at the Nike clearance store, says people come in and try to steal every day.
Stephen Yang

“[He] comes out with an armful of stuff and says ‘I’m sorry’ and just moves on,” said Fred, who has worked at the store for a few months.

“Thieves can go into the store and grab what they want and walk out again. The law says you can’t touch them… I’m here to scare them off,” he said.

Monica, the store manager at GNC, also said the store hired a security guard to try to ward off thieves.

NYPD officers patrol the Nike Clearance Store at SkyView.
NYPD officers patrol the Nike store at SkyView.
Stephen Yang

“We have a lot of people with big jackets and big bags. That’s why we had to put a security guard here,” Ortiz said.

“In here was a person who came here to steal. When I told her to leave she just pushed me and ran out.”

Earlier this year, a crook stole $1,700 worth of collagen, she said.

“He emptied two shelves. That’s why we lock these things and have a security guard here,” she said, pointing to the locked collage shelf.

The Flushing enclave has seen an increase in grand larceny over the past year.
Stephen Yang

“Now I feel unsafe outside,” she added. “Before the pandemic, we closed the store at 11 a.m. at night. Now we close the store at 8am and are afraid to go out at night when it’s dark. We all feel it.”

Speaking to guard at the mall on Wednesday afternoon, The Post saw two police officers in front of the marshals texting on their cellphones before patrolling the Nike store.

An off-duty police officer who works part-time as Duane Reade’s security guard said there has been an influx of New York’s finest onto the streets amid the rise in crime.

“You’re seeing all the new cops because of the increase in grand larceny and petty larceny in the area,” he said, without giving his name.

“You see that all over town. People pretty much go in and out of the store. It wasn’t a secret.”

He pointed to New York State’s controversial 2019 bail reform measures, which abolished cash bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent crime cases to encourage thieves.

“We have a lot of people using bail reform, where they basically come and shop and leave with two bags of stuff,” he said.

“They tell the store clerks not to touch me when they go out. They tell you, ‘Arrest me and I’ll be out in a few hours.'”

He added: “The perpetrators in the city are loudly saying how they can just be released. It is sad that they are right.”

A manager at Flushing Optical Inc. on Main Street said she was glad to see additional police officers in the area after two men ran off with $4,000 worth of Cartier sunglasses last month.

“They wanted to try them on. They said, ‘I like this and could I try it on?’” recalls Jessica Hsu, 54.

Then: “They just grabbed the glasses and ran away.”

An off-duty police officer pointed to bail reform as a possible cause of the rise in crime.
Stephen Yang

She said she had filed a complaint with the police but said “it doesn’t really help” because after 30 years in the neighborhood shop she has never seen her stolen goods recovered.

Still, the woman, who declined to give her name, welcomed the NYPD’s increasing presence.

“It’s a very busy street, so there should be police around. We should at least see someone. When we see police officers, we feel safe.”

The nearby 111th and 112th police stations were also “fighting,” a law enforcement source said.

Robberies are up about 200% this year in the 111, which includes Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows, statistics show.

A security guard at Marshall was attacked and robbed at SkyView's stores.
A security guard at Marshall was attacked and robbed at SkyView.
Stephen Yang

Further west in Forrest Hills and Rego Park, two homicides were recorded this year, compared to none in 2021, and robbery, assault and grand larceny all saw increases of at least 50%.

The 109 also saw a 144% increase in rapes to 39 in 2022, compared to 16 in the same period last year.

Citywide, serious crime fell over the past week and month compared to the same periods last year, but is up 25% year-to-date in 2022, with a 12% drop in homicides the only bright spot for the NYPD was, as statistics showed.

A College Point resident waiting on Main Street for the Q20 bus said she started carrying pepper spray last year and continues to use caution when commuting.

The shops at SkyView, a multi-story mall in Flushing, Queens,
The area saw a 113% increase in reported robberies compared to last year.
Stephen Yang

“It’s not something to look forward to going to the subway,” said 55-year-old secretary Kathy, adding that she commutes into the city from Flushing three days a week.

“I’m more careful now because homeless people and weird people come at you,” she said.

An Assasin Tattoos employee reported an attack on a customer at a store on 37th Street over the summer, where police said a man hit a customer with a baton.

“Maybe it’s a bit dangerous, it’s scary,” said worker Leah Li, 30, who started working at the store three days ago.

“Maybe because of the [COVID] Virus, it happens more often than last year.” NYC neighborhoods are on edge with the recent spike in crime


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