My Profile

My Profile

Change Password

Updated: January 2, 2024, 9:43 PM

Homicides, rapes fall in NYC but spikes in auto theft, felony assault

By Anthony M. DeStefano

Homicides, rapes and burglaries in New York City continued to fall in 2023 but spikes in auto thefts and felony assaults prevented overall NYPD crime statistics from showing significant improvement over the year before, according to new police data reviewed by Newsday and set for release Wednesday.

Yearly department statistics through Dec. 31 contain a mixed message — success fighting some serious crimes, with persistent difficulties reducing others. Last year's crime numbers are well above the pre-pandemic level achieved in 2019, considered by some experts to be a benchmark for low crime in the NYPD's modern Compstat era of record keeping.

Compared with 2022, when major felonies totaled 127,087, the number for 2023 barely dipped, just 0.3% to 126,678.

Major decreases were seen in homicides, which fell last year by 11.5%, rapes, down by 10.5%, and burglaries, 13.1%. Grand larcenies declined 2.5% in 2023, the data showed. But increases in felonious assaults of 6.5% and grand larceny auto of 13.74% stemmed the effect of decreases in other major felonies on overall numbers. Shootings, which are not part of the official index crime calculations, dropped 24% in 2023, according to preliminary figures.

The NYPD is scheduled to release the year-end crime statistics Wednesday at a news conference at police headquarters in Manhattan. An NYPD spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday about the latest crime data.

Former NYPD commissioner William Bratton said the downward trend of serious crime was encouraging and a credit to department efforts at precision policing to target illegal firearms.

“Things are going in the right direction," Bratton said in a phone interview.

Former NYPD Det. Sgt. Joseph Giacalone, an author who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also saw reasons for optimism in the drop in homicides, but with 386 recorded in 2023, he said, still well above the 300 mark from several years ago.

Chris Herrmann, an associate professor at John Jay, noted that the city remained above pre-pandemic crime rates in 2019, when about 95,000 major felonies, some 33% less than 2023’s total — were recorded.

“It is up so high now that it will take several years to get back to pre-pandemic levels,” Herrmann said. “My guess is it will be another year or so for murder to go down to pre- pandemic levels.

While experts believe that the NYPD can continue to address the fluid crime picture, questions and concerns persist over whether there are enough cops on the street. The NYPD current staffing level is now at around 33,541, down from more than 36,000 during former Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. Union officials have voiced alarm about police burnout caused by overtime work.

“Our city is facing many challenges, but understaffing and overworking our police officers will make all of them worse,” said Patrick Hendry, head of the Police Benevolent Association, in a statement. "The public safety progress we have made over the past year is the result of police officers working inhumane numbers of hours — we cannot sustain that.”