NYPD reports surge in home invasion robberies amid COVID-19



Thieves committed 204 home-invasion robberies in 2020, a 7 percent increase from the 190 reported in 2019, according to NYPD data that points to the pandemic as a factor in the uptick in the often-terrifying and violent crimes.

A Dec. 22 home invasion in the East Village left two people shot and a third person injured, police said. Three gunmen wearing all black busted into an apartment at the Wald Houses around 9:50 p.m., and shot two 29-year-old men in their hip and pelvis. A third male victim was clocked over the head with an unknown object.

In May, a pregnant woman and her boyfriend were fatally shot inside their Staten Island home by a convicted killer during a botched home robbery.

The spike has sharpened in the new year, with 56 home invasions reported through Feb. 28 — putting the city on pace for more than 300 this year, NYPD stats show.

Most recently, a pair of robbers posing as plumbers took two men hostage and tortured them for hours in a Bronx apartment before fleeing with a cell phone and $2,000.

With more people home due to the pandemic, raging robbers have more easy targets.

“These people (NYC residents) are sitting ducks. Suspects that do home invasions don’t care who is inside. Women, children. It’s part of their plan, to cause fear and terror in their victims,” said Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“The suspects in these cases steamroll into your home with guns and restraints and it’s happening more frequently due to the pandemic. Nobody thought the lockdowns would be going on this long,” he said.

Home invasions are more sinister than the far more common burglary, he explained. A “garden variety” burglar is usually unarmed and “waits for you to leave before entering and taking your stuff.

Police respond to a shooting in the East Village in December 2020.
Police respond to a shooting in the East Village in December 2020.
Stefan Jeremiah

“Even a slight uptick in home invasions warrants a concern,” Giacalone added. “Many home invasions involve drug dealers robbing drug dealers and the chance of retaliation becomes high.”

He advised: “Don’t open the door to anybody you don’t know.”

The retired cop said the pandemic has done no favors, with more people out of work and more people pressed for cash: “There are more guns on the street, shootings continue to rise, and there is a violent criminal element bent on destruction.”

Among the home invasion incidents:

  • On Jan. 27, armed crooks were caught on video forcing their way into a Bronx home — where they threw a 75-year-old woman on the ground and held her and two men at gunpoint before making off with $2,000.
  • On Jan. 31, armed bandits bound an Upper East Side resident and his Madison Avenue doorman and made off with more than $10,000 in cash and rare coins.
  • In the early hours of Feb. 5, two armed men broke into a Jamaica, Queens residence, tied up at least six people and stole three copies of a safe key, police sources said.


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