NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Parkgoers are being urged to take precautions as police step up patrols in Central Park after a recent spike in violent attacks.
While crime is down for the year, police said there has been a sudden spike in robberies in Central Park in the past 28 days — five robberies to one during the same time period last year. All of the victims were robbed of their cell phones.
Jacob Angstreich says a group of teenagers attacked him while he was cycling near 95th Street around 1 a.m. Monday.
“He just hit me in the head, knocked me off the bike,” he said. “My iPhone had fallen out of my pocket onto the ground and one of the kids picked it up and grabbed it and saw it was an iPhone 7 and started waving around saying, ‘Look at what we’ve got! An iPhone 7, I am going to keep this.'”
Hours later around 9:30 p.m., investigators said a woman jogging near 107th Street and East Drive was also attacked and nearly raped.
“She is thrown to the ground by a male, black, 30, heavyset, scruffy beard, with a dark jacket and orange T-shirt,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “This is an attempted rape, not completed. He then left the park.”
Last Friday, a 21-year-old man leaving the park around 11:30 p.m. was also attacked and mugged.
Police said they want people to use the park, but take a partner if it’s late at night and be aware of your surroundings.
“Bad month for the park, but we’re deploying a lot of resources into that area so we can stem this and solve these crimes,” Boyce said.
“Parkgoers will see a noticeable increase in police presence in the park,” NYPD Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said . “It’ll be on all tours, 24 hours a day, there will be more officers there.”
All five of the robberies happened at night and into the overnight hours, according to police. They are looking into which ones, if any of them, are connected. They believe there are about four to five suspects they’re searching for.
NYPD Inspector Tom Conforti offered some tips for Central Park visitors, 1010 WINS’ Andrew Falzon reported.
“If they’re jogging with two earbuds in their ear, maybe just put one in or make sure that the volume’s a little bit lower,” NYPD Inspector Tom Conforti said. “Or if they’re walking with their phone, tweeting, on Facebook or whatever it may be — every once and awhile look up and look at your surroundings.”
So far, no arrests have been made.