Fort Greene Park is a summer idyll, but there’s also a menacing quality — especially in light of several recent crimes. Thieves struck in and around the park at least six times in the past three weeks, prompting the police to increase patrols. (Photo: By Tom Callan)
Police are adding patrols in Fort Greene Park this month after a spate of robberies have turned the idyllic green into a crime den, according to the Brooklyn Paper.
Officers will drive through the park to ward off thieves and protect parkgoers until the school year ends, said Deputy Inspector Anthony Tasso, the 88th precinct’s commanding officer.
Thieves struck in and around the park at least six times in the past three weeks, prompting Tasso to assign more police there at the end of May.
“A lot of the muggings involved teenagers, so we think these problems will be alleviated when school gets out,” he said.
The recent incidents varied, with bands of teen thieves plucking women’s purses and phones in broad daylight and attacking a man just outside a park entrance at night.
Tasso said students at Brooklyn Technical HS — at the southwest corner of the park — are potential victims, though police records show that half of the assailants were of school age.
Before the extra patrols, cops arrested two suspects after one of them stole a woman’s phone in the park on May 24 at 2:20 pm.
Two days later, police got another purse-snatcher for robbing a woman around the same time.
But the increase in cop cruising didn’t stop some muggers. A band of young crooks tried to rob a man at DeKalb Avenue and Washington Park on May 31 just after midnight. The victim ran away.
In one incident, a teenager was a victim. On June 2, three men jumped a 15-year-old boy at 8:52 am, a block from the park, and made off with $6.
Fort Greene Park is at a diverse crossroads, bordered by the Ingersoll and Walt Whitman public housing developments, a hospital, and a row of brownstones, with luxury condominiums only blocks away.
Police say that the stark contrast in socioeconomics — paired with thieves using the park as an escape route — sets the scene for mugger’s paradise.
“There’s not just one pattern,” Tasso said. “Because of its location, Fort Greene Park is always an area that’s prone to robberies.”
Some residents greeted the bumped up patrols with mixed feelings.
“It’s alarming that people are being mugged by 13-year-olds,” said Jessica McCarthy, a 25-year-old who has stopped walking through the park at night because of recent attacks. “But I’m not sure if more police would make me feel safer.”
Lada Cohen, 35, said that she runs in the park every week and doesn’t let reports of crime bother her.
“Police certainly help, but at the same time, I wouldn’t feel comfortable if they were in here watching me all the time,” she said.
Neighborhood robberies have increased slightly compared to last year’s levels. There were 88 robberies through June 5, compared to 83 at the same time last year.
Tasso said that he doesn’t plan to keep the extra patrols into next month, but he could extend them if robberies don’t drop after school’s out for summer.