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Community awareness helps take a big bite out of crime

Slowly but surely, it seems that Park Slopers are getting the message when it comes to securing their personal property. “We’ve made a lot of strides in the past year, particularly when it comes to educating people,” Captain John Scolaro, the commanding officer of the 78th Precinct told this paper as he gave a brief recap of the past year. Year-end statistics for 2006 show that felony crime in Park Slope has fallen by just over five percent, with massive drops in rape reports and car thefts. While the number of grand larcenies were up for the year, Scolaro said that the number of car break-ins, purse pluckings and identity thefts dropped near the end of the year, thanks to a renewed campaign to educate the public. “We’re continuing with the education and we are continuing stressing the importance of people better securing their property and we’ve seen a considerable change,” Scolaro said. “I really believe that people are changing their habits.” Out of the 455 grand larceny reports that were filed with the 78th Precinct last year, 163 were thefts of unattended property, mostly wallets and purses that were stolen in public places when the owners turned their back from their property for just a few moments. An additional 52 of the grand larceny reports came car owners who claimed that someone had broken into their automobiles, removing purses, laptop computers and other valuable property. “In the last year at least 12 people had laptop computers taken from their cars,” said Scolaro. “People are learning to put them in their trunks.” Besides encouraging residents to keep their electronics away from prying eyes, area gym rats are also learning to limit what they bring to their workouts. “There is no reason why people have to bring their credit cards to the gym,” said Scolaro. “All they have to do is bring a towel.” According to precinct statistics, cops at the 78th Precinct saw a 20 percent decrease in robberies, from 240 in 2005 to 191 last year. Burglaries in the command, however, were up by 3.2 percent for the year, from 184 to 190. The number of felony assaults in the command also increased by 28 percent, from 75 in 2005 to 96 last year. Scolaro said that at least 14 of the assaults investigated last year were related to domestic violence. As they continue to combat domestic violence in the command, Scolaro said that his domestic violence officers conduct lectures, do follow up calls and make routine home visits. “Basically we want to make sure that the family is intact and that the people are ok,” said Scolaro. “Not everyone is happy – they don’t want the police stopping by – but we’re out there trying to stop something bad from happening.”

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