New York City Crime: 2019 Trends
Intelligence Fusion has closely monitored crime trends in New York City throughout 2019, revealing diversity in the types and severity of crime at both borough and neighbourhood level.
An analysis of data from 2019 has uncovered evidence to support the assertion that the city has seen a significant rise in antisemitic incidents and a rise in murders. On the other hand, there’s been a fall in the number of rape cases recorded and figures for robberies and burglaries have remained largely stable since 2018.
Throughout 2019, Intelligence Fusion has mapped antisemitic incidents worldwide, grouping them using the platform’s ‘Themes’ tool. Themes provides an additional layer of context allowing users to view patterns and trends as heatmap.
Globally, a concentration of incidents in Brooklyn has been observed using the tool. The NYPD reported that of the 421 hate crimes recorded by the NYPD, roughly half were antisemitic. Clusters of incidents have also been noted in the neighbourhoods of Crown Heights, Williamsburg and Brownsville, many of which involve assault, verbal harassment or vandalism.
Following an antisemitic shooting in neighbouring Jersey City, at least eight antisemitic incidents were recorded over the period of one week New York City for the month of December. The first incident occurred near Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan where a Jewish man claimed that he was punched and kicked by another man who shouted “F*** you, Jew”. Police later arrested a suspect. Similarly, a serious assault occurred in the lobby of a residential building where two Jewish boys, aged six and seven, were attacked from behind by a gang of teenagers.
The NYPD also investigated an incident where a man walked into the Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn and threatened to shoot everyone inside.
While the majority of antisemitic incidents were still classed as vandalism, such as the painting of swastikas drawn in public places, the severity of physical attacks appears to have increased over 2019. Individuals wearing traditional religious clothing were singled out by perpetrators in particular. Furthermore, there was no standard profile for perpetrators; accused individuals varied by age, race and gender.
An increase in the number of murders recorded in 2019 has also stoked fears about a return to the crime rates of the 1980s and 1990s in New York City. The New York Times reported an 8% increase in the number of murders recorded in 2019 compared to 2018, the highest figure for three years.
It’s worth noting that this trend has been sporadic, with the highest increases recorded in northern and southern Manhattan, northern Brooklyn and southern Queens. Figures for Staten Island remained comparably low. Of the 318 murders recorded, 27 were re-classified homicides where assault victims died from injuries sustained during previous years.
The NYPD has largely attributed the rise in the number of murders reported to gang activity, especially between groups of teenagers with access to firearms. In terms of high-casualty incidents, this appears to have held significance. In July, a mass shooting took place in a playground in Brownsville, Brooklyn, killing one person and wounding 11 others. Following an investigation, it was determined that two men had carried out the attack during a chance encounter between rival gang members at a block party.
While gang activity was the cause of many deaths, we also recorded several high casualty incidents over the course of the year of a domestic or non-gang related nature. In early November, three separate murder-suicides were recorded over the span of a week, leading to the deaths of at least seven people, with one other person sustaining non-fatal injuries. All three of these incidents were domestic related and were associated with relationship disputes.
On the other hand, in October, a 24-year-old man beat four homeless men to death with a metal pipe in Chinatown, Manhattan. A fifth victim was left in a critical condition. The suspect in the Chinatown killings was reportedly homeless himself and had a history of violent behaviour, mental illness and drug usage. Witness reports and CCTV footage appear to show that the suspect he attacked the victims at random as they slept in the street but as of yet no motive has been established.
Earlier on in October, four men were also killed, and several people were wounded when gunfire broke out at an illegal gambling house; an incident not thought to have gang ties.
Despite most high-casualty incidents being linked to gun violence, shootings only rose by about 3% in 2019 compared to 2018, with variation observed on a month-by-month basis. In June, the city experienced a sudden rise in shootings, with 83 recorded compared to 67 in June 2018.
In Morrisania, Bronx, three bystanders were struck by gunfire originating from a gang-related dispute. All of the victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries, but several days prior an 11-year-old boy was left paralysed after he was accidentally shot in the chest in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
In contrast, the number of rapes and sexual assaults recorded in 2019 fell. 1,760 rapes were reported in 2019 and 1,805 in 2018. It has been speculated that this could be due to the relative increase in the reporting of such incidents in 2018 following the emergence of the #MeToo movement.
The number of robberies recorded in 2019 remained largely stable with 2018 levels, rising only by around 3%. We reported a number of incidents around Times Square and the surrounding subway stations where cash and phones had been taken from individuals in seemingly opportunistic thefts. Most of these incidents were classed as ‘snatch and grab’ robberies and didn’t involve the use of weapons.
Nonetheless, a number of armed robberies were recorded particularly across Upper Manhattan, central Brooklyn and the Bronx. Data recorded by Intelligence Fusion suggests that firearms were the most frequently used weapon during these incidents, followed by knives.
Bank robberies were also a frequently recorded occurrence, particularly in Midtown Manhattan. In many cases, perpetrators presented bank employees with letters demanding a sum of cash and claiming that they were armed. It was rare for a weapon to actually be displayed and in many cases the perpetrator was detained near the crime scene.
While rates of general crime were slightly higher in compared to previous years, 2019 didn’t appear to experience a reversion to levels of criminality documented in the 1980s and 1990s.
Challenges for the municipal government to confront in 2020 are likely to involve the tackling of antisemitism and increasing murder rates in specific neighbourhoods. An additional focus on reducing gang related activity could furthermore reduce the number of victims of crime due to the potential for bystanders to be caught in the crossfire of conflicts.
For more information or a deeper insight into the continuation of these trends across New York in 2020, speak to a member of the Intelligence Fusion team today on +44(0)1913804000 or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.