DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp –
CROWN HEIGHTS – Phone thefts and teen brawls have gotten so bad at a Crown Heights McDonald’s that police asked the management to turn off the Wi-Fi as a way of scattering the after-school crowds, DNAinfo New York has learned.
“We asked them to kill the Wi-Fi there from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. so it doesn’t become a hangout,” Capt. Eddie Lott, commanding officer of the 77th Precinct, said of the McDonald’s at Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway. “That McDonald’s is a big hangout for young people.”
Lott said he had reached an agreement with the managers of the McDonald’s to cut the Wi-Fi in the afternoons, but it was still going strong this week – and McDonald’s corporate office said the company had not agreed to anything yet.
“As good corporate citizens, we are working with the police to ensure the safety of our customers,” the company said in a statement, adding that that McDonald’s has hired additional security.
“The police have presented many solutions, one of which includes turning off the Wi-Fi.”
The 77th Precinct has seen a 19 percent jump in robberies so far this year compared to the previous year, coupled with a 10 percent increase in felony assaults, NYPD statistics show. Grand larcenies, which police said include many phone thefts, have spiked by nearly 30 percent.
The precinct did not release separate crime statistics for Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
While the intersection is far from the only problem spot in the neighborhood, police in both the 77th and the 71st precincts have repeatedly called it one of the most troubling. Earlier this fall, Lott put an NYPD SkyWatch tower at the intersection, videotaping 360 degrees 24 hours a day as both a deterrent and a way of catching suspects after crimes occur.