Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis joined southern Brooklyn business owners, police officials and community members outside a Bay Ridge restaurant on Sept. 27 to request Governor Kathy Hochul and state leaders reverse a bail reform law that went into effect in 2020 after a string of recent burglaries in the neighborhood.
“We want our city, state, and federal leaders to take action to address public safety that is crippling our community, reducing the quality of life and causing small businesses to close and New Yorkers to flee for safer places,” Malliotakis said at a press conference. “Enough is enough. How many times do we have to read in the newspaper about crime occurring in our community? There have been six Bay Ridge businesses burglarized in the last two weeks; I can almost guarantee [it is] by repeat offenders, thanks to the disastrous bail law Albany refuses to fix.”
Bail reform and crime rates
New York’s reformed bail laws eliminate cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. After arrest, suspects who would usually be held in jail on bail are freed without restrictions or are monitored electronically while their case is decided. Advocates say cash bail disproportionately impacted low-income New Yorkers and people of color — someone who had committed a nonviolent crime but who could not afford bail previously would have stayed in jail, while a more monied person accused of an identical crime would be able to go free.
“As I have said many times both on and off the Assembly floor, our communities are being held hostage by criminals who continue to roam our streets and take advantage of our lax bail laws,” said Assemblyman Michael Tannousis. “Victims continue to grow on a daily basis. The only way to end this continuously growing crime wave in our community is to change the bail reform laws once and for all.”
Bay Ridge has seen a string of burglaries in the past few weeks, costing business owners a total of $28,000 according to CBS News. One general store manager says he lost more than $4,000 after a burglary of his store on Aug. 30. Police say another business was robbed of $12,000. While the NYPD reports a decrease in crime compared to last year, robberies have risen nearly 25% in the Brooklyn South Patrol since last year. No arrests have been made in the Bay Ridge burglaries, and it is unknown whether the suspects had previously been arrested.
“We’re seeing hardworking, taxpaying citizens taken advantage of and their businesses are under attack. It’s well past time for our state leadership to take the issue of public safety and rising crime seriously,” Malliotakis said.
In 2020, the state government voted to roll back some reforms – increasing the number of bail-eligible crimes and conditions under which a suspect might be held on bail. Hochul has resisted calls to do away with bail reform, pushing for judges to learn about and use all of their available options — including some made available by the recent tweaks. The governor said last month that attributing crime rates exclusively to bail reform is “too simplistic.”
One business owner said not only are their shops in danger but also their lives.
“It’s not just about Bay Ridge, it’s about all of New York City,” said Joe Mancino, from Peppino’s on 3rd Avenue. “I have two kids, I want to be able to walk them down the street. It’s not just about the businesses, it’s about New Yorkers. We need Albany to wake up; laws have to be changed.”
Cops are also searching for three men they believe were involved in two nearly-identical burglaries in Dyker Heights earlier this month. In both incidents, two men allegedly broke into homes to steal cash and jewelry while a third man stood watch outside.
Data unclear on reform, recidivism, and crime rates
Despite assertions that bail reform has led to increased crime rates, pretrial re-arrests have remained about the same as before reforms were implemented, according to a report from the city Comptroller’s office, though the NYPD reported earlier this year that 25% of people arrested for burglary in 2022 went on to commit another felony within two months.
Local councilmember Brannan said after meeting with the 68th precinct, officers decided to increase their overnight patrol since the shops were being targeted after dark.
“I don’t know how they were getting in but they weren’t breaking in windows,” said Brannan. “It was overnight while the business was closed.”
“Being a new business in the area, it concerns me a lot with that’s beein going on with the robberies and break-ins,” said Louie Lykourezos, owner of Louie’s Gyros, where the press conference was held. “It costs a lot of money, for damages, for the places that are going through it, and nothing is happening to the criminals. They’re out before the officers finish the paperwork.”