They’re the Villages of the Damned.
Major crimes are surging in both the East and West villages, turning Manhattan’s once iconic arts and culture hubs into cesspools of rampant property thieves.
The Sixth Precinct, which patrols the West Village, saw an 84 percent spike in major crime rates when compared to 2021’s year-to-date numbers — the highest increase among Manhattan’s 22 precincts and nearly two times the citywide jump of 44 percent — NYPD data shows. The Ninth Precinct, which serves the East Village, the Bowery and NoHo, is also seeing an uptick in property thefts and violent attacks with the total major crime rate jumping 54 percent so far this year compared to the same time period in 2021, police data shows.
In Greenwich Village:
- Grand larcenies more than doubled from 147 to 308
- Burglaries surged from 59 to 100, or 70 percent
- Robberies rocketed from 47 to 69, or 47 percent
- Vehicle thefts increased from 3 to 12
- Felony assaults ticked up from 32 to 41
Residents and business owners there are fed up with the abundance of shoplifters that include vagrants, small-time fencers and even families.
“I certainly feel not safe. Coke heads, heroin, what have you – It’s just mayhem out there,” said Terr Le, a liquor store owner who calls the cops on crooks at least twice a week. “It’s just crazy and people are on the edge.”
Sara Morales at the West 4th Market Place said she’s dealt with constant shoplifters since the deli opened in January.
“One lady started taking candies and drinks and putting them in her pocket like it was her house,” she said. “She took a hammer out of her bag, trying to hit my coworker when we went to stop her.”
Despite threats to her business and health, Morales said she’ll often give away food if vagrants simply ask.
Kyle McCoy, who manages Atelier on W. 8th St., recently stopped a father, mother and teenage daughter from swiping a $1,300 skirt. He said there’s no solution because bail reform laws go easy on criminals.
“It’s stupid,” he said. “Shoplifters get a little slap on the wrist.”
An NYPD spokesperson said the Sixth Precinct’s neighborhood coordination and public safety officers are now focusing their patrols more on commercial establishments and retail stores.
Some incidents in the Sixth Precinct were perpetrated by recidivists criminals, a statewide consequence of bail reform laws that is only exacerbated by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s soft on crime policies and catch-and-release strategies.
Zachary Westcott, 41, entered the Old G Connivance store on W. 14th Street in January and brandishing a weapon he said to the clerk, “Give me a pack of Newports or I will kill,” police reports say. Westcott was later charged in other cases for assault, petit larceny and assaulting police officers.
There was also 33-year-old Farrah Hales, who on March 5, attempted to steal a frying pan, juice, and saute pots from a Morton Williams supermarket on Bleeker Street before telling staff, “I have a knife and I will stab you,” and fleeing toward Washington Square Park. So far this year, she was also charged with criminal mischief, robbery, possession of a controlled substance and menacing.
Over in the East Village, things aren’t much better.
Compared to 2021’s year-to-date numbers, robberies more than doubled from 37 to 81, grand larcenies shot up 79 percent from 154 to 275 and felony assaults increased from 42 to 55.
Folks there say the neighborhood is starting to revert to the bad old days.
“It seems like a lot of unstable people walking around the neighborhood. Fights breaking out everywhere,” bartender Rob Rossi, 49, said in a text. “Lotta stores are getting robbed, especially bodegas. People getting robbed in plain daylight. My friend Crystal got beat up on St. Paddy’s day at 7:45pm by Avenue B, and she is Asian. She was punched a few times in the face.
“The neighborhood looks like it’s from the ‘90s, before it took a turn for the better.”
Leroy “Big Lee” Lloyd, who owns The Hard Swallow bar on 1st Avenue, compared the current state of the neighborhood to John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York,” a classic 1980s dystopian film where Manhattan is converted into a lawless prison island.
“I’ve had to cut back on security lately because sales have been down,” he said. “I was at another bar just last week where I had to help out and calm a wild guy down. I left and then an hour later, the bartender there calls me and says the dude jumped behind the bar, tried to steal the register and broke one of the DJ’s jaw.”