Last month, there were a few muggings in Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights that raised concerns about safety in the area. There was another mugging on Wednesday evening at 10:30pm on Water Street near Main Street (near photo above). The victim was a 1 Main St resident. The 1 Main security cameras captured the incident and police are revewing the tapes. A notice was sent out by the building management:
Please be advised that a female resident of the building was mugged last night around 10:30pm on Water Street near the service entrance of the building. She was attacked by two men and had her purse stolen. Fortunately images of the incident were recorded on the building’s security cameras and the footage is being reviewed by the Police.
In response to last month’s muggings, reporter Jennifer Hamblett penned the below article. Given the most recent incident, we think this is still relevant. Please be aware of your surroundings when walking alone in the dark.
Violent Attack on Woman Highlights Spike of Assaults in Dumbo’s Changing Neighborhood
Reporting by Jennifer Hamblett
On Saturday October 9th at 7am DUMBO’s record of petty crime and vandalism suddenly changed. A local female resident, walking home from the subway station at Jay and York Street, was “grabbed from behind and choked until she passed out,“ said Sergeant Carlos Nieves.
The end result, her purse and iphone being stolen, is not uncommon in an area that has experienced an influx of new wealthy residents. What is shocking is the violence involved. With a year to date rise in felonious assault and robbery complaints made to the 84th precinct, alarmed residents have begun to question security in this rapidly changing neighborhood.
“It’s horrifying,” says Tracy Jenkins of the recent attack. Jenkins has lived in the area for three years and says she thinks people don’t consider crime a problem in the area.
“It’s a little bit of paradise here and it’s difficult to think of it differently,” she says.
The paradise that DUMBO offers, with its cobbled streets and large warehouse lofts, has been marketed extensively in the last five years. New high-rise residential units have been built and the population has increased rapidly. But the nature of these spaces also lends themselves to crime.
“The new buildings are huge complexes that isolate people,” Kathy Gurland, a local resident and social worker, says. That isolation makes a community far less aware of itself and people who live in complexes far less aware of their surroundings, Gurland says. Couple the new isolating developments with DUMBO’s industrial spaces, many of which are still vacant, and the area lends itself to crime scenes, she says.
“All the scaffolding canopies of new developments and the vacant industrial units, these are crime scenes waiting to happen. You could easily get pulled under a dark section of scaffolding and robbed,” Gurland says.
The attack on October 9th occurred alongside the Manhattan Bridge, the striking landmark that gives DUMBO its name and a popular tourist haunt. Yet the bridge and its surrounding underside remain a collection of vacant and part used industrial lots that locals have avoided for years.
In February a man was attacked under the recently re-opened arched passageway in the Manhattan Bridge. The passageway had been closed for 17 years previously and re-opened so that locals would not have to take the long way round the bridge. A Gothamist reporter who wrote of the archway attack concluded his article by saying, “This much is certain: we’ll be ordering delivery until they install surveillance cameras and armed guards in that archway.”
Shortly after the October 9th attack, according to police reports, the officers canvassed the area and found that several security cameras that could have witnessed the attack were not working.
Residents say they are frustrated that the cameras could have helped catch the perpetrator. Yet many are divided over whether DUMBO should have more security cameras due to privacy concerns.
The Two Trees development, owners of one of the larger condo buildings in the area, say they believe cameras make their residents feel safer and are a good deterrent against crime.
When questioned about the possibility of more cameras in the area, police said there are no plans for security cameras that they would control or install. “All cameras are privately owned and we consult tapes from private buildings to assist with canvassing a crime scene,” says Sergeant Nieves.
After a violent attack on a man two years ago in a row of townhouses in nearby Vinegar Hill the 84th Precinct offered to install a security camera on the street. However, according to Tracy Jenkins who lived nearby, the buildings owner said they would provide cameras instead. The precinct accepted this offer and didn’t install further cameras.
“There are too many civil liberty arguments against surveillance cameras in New York,” Tracy says.
“It’s so funny the things that become dominant in our society, we have all these freedoms and yet if you cant feel safe to go out with your children, what’s the point?”
DUMBO is generally a safe neighborhood, Ilene Richardson, a resident for over ten years, says, but its physical spaces combined with wealthy residents make it susceptible to occasional crime. What is worrying is when petty crime leads to more violent incidents, says Richardson.
“This is as if the area is being tested,” says Kathy Gurland, “if we don’t react to petty crime and alert the police, more serious crime tends to happen.”
Improving the sense of community, both in reporting crime, being more aware and pushing for better safety developments is what can prevent the crime figures from rising, says Tracy Jenkins.
“We are trying to turn this community into something it is not,” says Gurland. “First of all we need to deal with what it is.”