NEW YORK (CBS 2) – It’s one of the top tourist destinations in New York City and arguably the most famous park in the world.
And now it’s the scene of a spike in crime.
In fact, crime in Central Park is up 45 percent compared to last year.
CBS 2′s Magee Hickey reports on what’s being done to stop it.
Among the 20 million people who visit Central Park each year, many can be potential targets of crime, like one German tourist Hickey saw napping in the sun, or the jogger with earphones or the visitor with a knapsack out of reach. With a 45-percent leap in crimes in Central Park over the last year experts are worried that visitors are too relaxed about their safety.
Specifically, seven rapes have been reported so far this year, compared to none for the same period last year. Robberies are up to 22 this year compared to 18 last year and grand larceny, 56 incidents this year compared to 35 last year — a 60 percent increase.
“The economy, a bad economy doesn’t help. Many more people are using the park. Many are lulled into a false sense of security,” said NYC park advocate Geoffrey Croft.
So Hickey brought a self-defense expert into the park to give some tips on how we can all be safer.
“Stay in populated areas. Don’t take shortcuts,” female awareness expert Gabrielle Rubin said.
Rubin’s other tips include: jog with a buddy, particularly during pre-dawn or dusk hours; change your route daily; make eye contact with passersby, don’t wear earphones or talk on the phone if walking alone and keep personal possession close at hand.
Most welcomed the pointers.
“My mom tells me to do that all the time,” jogger Brooke Kneteman said.
“If you’re going to close your eyes, maybe not a good idea to have headphones on because you lose two senses,” student Max Behr added.
“This handbag is way too easy to grab. Put together is much harder to grab,” Rubin said.