Top cop says special unit, outreach can cut thefts

Inspector Elisa Cokkinos has commanded the Sixth Precinct since May, when she was promoted from deputy inspector to inspector.   Photo by SAM SPOKONY

Inspector Elisa Cokkinos has commanded the Sixth Precinct since May, when she was promoted from deputy inspector to inspector. Photo by SAM SPOKONY

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  The commanding officer of the Police Department’s Sixth Precinct said last week that she believes the Village could see a decrease in thefts this year, even after they rose by more than 10 percent in 2013.

In a Jan. 3 interview, Inspector Elisa Cokkinos explained that efforts to work more closely with bar and nightclub owners, especially in the Meatpacking District, could bring those numbers down.

“If everybody is accountable for their small piece when it comes to crime prevention, I think we’ll see decreases,” she said.

Both grand and petty larceny — thefts of property totalling more and less than $1,000, respectively — surged in 2013. Grand larceny increased by around 12 percent and petty larceny by 8 percent compared to the previous year, according to police statistics.

Trendy Meatpacking clubs were hot spots for both thefts and assaults throughout 2013, though those crimes also rose in bars along Christopher St. and around New York University’s South Village campus.

Cokkinos took over at the Sixth Precinct this past May after being transferred from Chelsea’s 10th Precinct, which she had commanded since 2010.

At that point in the year, it was already clear that grand larceny was a growing problem in bars and clubs. Cokkinos responded in June by putting together a new team to deal specifically with nightlife establishments. That unit, including a sergeant and six police officers, communicates directly with the clubs regarding inspections and crime prevention. The special unit also supplements the general work of officers already assigned to the midnight shift.

Sixth Precinct Community Affairs officers also held sessions with bar and club staff members last year, instructing them on ways to cut down on crime inside the venues.

“We went over some key issues with them in terms of what to look out for, and how to make their interactions better, and I think it was very successful,” said Cokkinos.

But while the commanding officer asserted that a decrease in thefts is a realistic possibility for 2014, the fact remains that this past year’s efforts did not quell the overall rise. Yet, other felonies, like robbery and burglary, dropped in the precinct in 2013, and overall arrests in the Sixth rose by 11.5 percent compared to 2012.

Cokkinos stressed that, aside from keeping her new nightlife unit in place for the coming year and continuing to do community outreach, there would be no strategy changes in terms of dealing with thefts in the area.

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