THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) – Break-ins and attempted break-ins are becoming a common occurrence for businesses in the South Bronx.
The rise in crime, community members say, is taking steps backwards for the neighborhood which has experienced new development in recent years.
Andre Matta, the general manager of Chocobar Cortes in Mott Haven, said the restaurant experienced its third break-in this month.
“We’re not the only ones affected by this in the neighborhood,” Matta said. “There [are] other businesses and individuals affected by these crimes.”
More stores on Alexander Avenue and in the surrounding neighborhood were also recent victims.
NYPD officials told PIX11 News that the suspect at Chocobar’s most recent incident forcibly opened the side door and removed a cash register inside. Luckily, the general manager said there was no cash so the perpetrator made off with nothing, but the smashed door is still a costly repair.
“The important thing is that we work with our leadership here to see what we could do to prevent this in the future,” Matta added.
NYPD data shows burglaries in the 40th precinct during October are up 138.5% compared to last year.
Michael Brady, CEO of the Third Avenue Business Improvement District, said petty and violent crimes are up.
“The South Bronx, and this area in general, we’ve seen about a 33% uptick in crime since the summer,” Brady said.
Brady added that crime is effecting the narrative of the community.
“We’ve worked really hard to reposition the South Bronx, which was once a former industrial site, and now, we’re the home of thousands of Bronx residents, a lot of businesses, an emerging commercial strip that’s experienced deep, deep investment,” Brady said.
Diana Ayala is the New York City Council member who represents the area and echoes Brady’s words.
“This used to be a very desolate community and these small businesses, really, have brought a lot of life and energy to the community, and we want to be able to protect them and take care of them,” Ayala said.
The resilient restaurant, which celebrates its Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage, continues to pick up where it left off so that customers are comfortable.
“We want people to come over, have a cup of hot chocolate with cheddar cheese, maybe a shot of Don Q rum to go with it and feel safe in the neighborhood,” Matta said.
The Third Avenue Business Improvement District recognizes that the 40th precinct is overtasked, but they hope that some sort of additional manpower like an overnight patrol can still be assigned so the businesses and community can continue thriving.