Video: 61st Precinct Commander Explains 2011’s Crime Surge

With a crime-fueled 2011 in the rear view mirror, the leader of the 61st Precinct suggested much of the year’s crime was a statistical anomaly, but authorities are gaining ground where they can.

Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas provided a year-end review for members of the 61st Precinct Community Council last night, giving context to the nearly eight percent surge in major crimes in a precinct that previously led the city in crime reduction.

In terms of violent crimes – murders, rapes and felonious assaults – Mastrokostas said the stats were heightened by a rash of unpredictable violence, as well as a legal reclassification of certain crimes. Murders, shootings and stabbings, for the most part, happened in normally quiet sections of the district, like the Marine Park shooting or the murder on Homecrest Avenue.

“We had some violence happening in not traditional places. We know that housing [projects are] going to bring us violence, so that’s why we put our resources there,” Mastrokostas said. “Some of this violence that came about this year just came out of nowhere.”

Not only were they unexpected, but eight of the murders – more than half of the total and the difference from the year prior – came from three incidents: four by Maksim Gelman, two from a mother-daughter slaying in April, and two more from a triple shooting in the Nostrand Houses.

Rapes, meanwhile, saw a jump from four to 11. However, Mastrokostas noted, these were largely domestic or acquaintance in nature, making it harder for the precinct to prevent.

“We’re not having stranger rapes. We’re not having people abducted off the street being raped. These are all people that are meeting people – whether it’s online, they’ve dated a couple of times, they may meet someone at a bar or a club and they come back home” and the incident occurs, Mastrokostas noted.

He added that legislators have reclassified strangulation, formerly a misdemeanor, as a felony after research showed many domestic violence cases included such abuse – and that led in part to the uptick in felonious assault statistics.

Where the precinct is gaining ground, however, is in robberies and burglaries. The year saw a sharp jump in both categories – particularly starting mid-year. Leading the robbery category is theft of iPhones and other electronic devices, he said.

“Everyone’s busy texting away and on the internet, but while you’re doing that you’re distracted,” he noted. “Next thing you know, as the [subway] doors are closing, someone reaches over your shoulder and robs your electronics.”

He said the precinct has been pushing a etching program to help track down stolen goods, and they’re also recommending apps to help locate devices after the theft.

That’s not to mention the arrests. Though the number of robberies and burglaries are up, Mastrokostas said they’ve been successful in nabbing many of the culprits. Authorities arrested a teen duo who accounted for 10 robberies in December alone (who were charged as adults), as well as a group of four individuals who had robbed several people in Manhattan Beach and around the district.


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