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NYC's posh Upper East side sees shocking 286% rise in robberies even as 'defund police' debate continues

Incidents of armed crime have occurred very close to the residences of some of the billionaires in the area
Representational image (Getty Images)
Representational image (Getty Images)

While the debate over defunding the police departments in various American cities rages on, New York City continues to witness torrid times in terms of law and order. While the New York Police Department (NYPD) recently revealed that more incidents of shooting have taken place in the Big Apple so far in 2020 compared to the whole of 2019, another set of data from the same law-enforcing agency said that the city’s wealthiest neighborhood has seen a scary spike in armed robberies. 

As per NYPD records, Manhattan’s Upper East Side has seen 27 robberies over the past one month — a 286 percent rise when compared to the corresponding period last year. A large number of those cases involved local people being held at gunpoint. While the entire 2019 saw the Upper East Side witnessing only four instances of armed robberies, 14 have already been reported so far this year. The trend has left the rich residents including billionaires, who have an average annual income of $322,400, panic-stricken.

The 19th Precinct of the NYPD, which patrols the Upper East Side, tweeted statistics on August 3 and appealed to the people to inform the cops about any leads that they have. 



Last weekend, three teenagers held up a man at gunpoint on the corner of East 65th St and Lexington Avenue and ran away with his wallet. Fox News reported that the spot of the crime was just a block away from the residence of billionaire financier Henry Kravis, whose worth has been estimated by Forbes to be at $6.5B. Kravis, 76, is one of the founders of Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts Inc investment firm and has put $125M toward Columbia University’s Business School. The “world’s richest apartment building” was also not too far from the same spot.

The thieves were in action again when they snatched a woman’s mobile phone on East 84th St and Fifth Ave, a place near the houses of billionaires John Paulson and Glenn Dubin. The cops later caught hold of the criminals aged between 16 and 17 and seized a loaded gun from them. 

Instances of robberies were also going up in other affluent neighborhoods of the city. The NYPD’s 1st Precinct, which patrols the rich SoHo and TriBeCa neighborhood, has said that robberies were up by 175 percent in July when compared to the same period last year. A 50 percent rise in robberies was also seen in the posh West Village where stars like Sarah Jessica Parker and Anderson Cooper live. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, also saw a 40 percent rise in thefts. 

On August 3, the NYPD released comprehensive crime figure data for July which showed shootings and murders have gone up when compared to the same in July 2019. While murders went up by 20 percent citywide, burglaries went up by 21 percent and shootings by 17 percent. 

NYC police commissioner calls the situation 'challenging'

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who disbanded the city’s plainclothes anti-crime unit in June, called the current crisis to be “challenging” but said the department remained committed to its duty to ensure law and order were in place. 

NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea (Getty Images)

"Amid the ongoing challenges of these times, the NYPD's commitment to public safety never wavers,” Shea said, adding, “Our men and women officers represent the best of the policing profession and work every day alongside those they serve in an ongoing joint mission to protect life, prevent crime and build safer neighborhoods for everyone across our great city.”
The rising crimes in America’s most populated city will bring the focus back on the controversial idea of defunding police departments, a call that gained traction in the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis in May. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, cut the NYPD’s funding by more than a billion dollars in the wake of the anti-police protests that engulfed several cities in the US. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, objected to President Donald Trump’s plan to deploy federal agents to deal with the deteriorating conditions in NYC. On August 3, he briefly addressed the issue of crime and other issues affecting NYC in the context of the super-rich. When he was asked whether he was considering a millionaire’s tax, Cuomo said, "We used to be worried, millionaire’s tax, people might leave. No, no, the burden shifted – we’re trying to get people to come back." According to the governor, a millionaire’s tax would likely discourage the wealthy from returning to NYC from places like Hamptons and Hudson Valley. Several of them have left the city in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak which has badly hit the city as well as the entire Empire State with more than 32,000 dead.