Rochester sees spike in robberies, reignites NY SAFE Act debate

Posted at: 08/01/2013 7:34 PM
Updated at: 08/01/2013 7:36 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

High tech gadgets, like smart phones, that many of us carry every day are actually helping police solve crimes. Officers say three men robbed a man and a woman at gunpoint Wednesday night on Avon Place near South Clinton Avenue. Investigators say they stole cash, a bank card and both of the victims' cell phones. But they didn't get too far.

Thanks to a tracking application on one of those cell phones, officers say they found the men at the Hudson Avenue Wal-Mart parking lot.

News10NBC found out that this particular type of crime is on the rise. So far this year, Rochester Police say they've seen a significant increase in the number of robberies involving guns. So we asked state officials and local gun advocates if they thought the new gun law was helping at all. The groups remain divided. Gun owners are still upset about the SAFE Act and government officials say they are standing by their decision.

In Rochester, we found that overall crime is dropping except for robbery.   

Peter Pullano, attorney, Tully Rinckey PLLC,said, “A robbery is, most times, a crime of desperation. It's an individual so desperate that they are not only going to take money but they are going to use violence and firearms to get it. Again, I think that shows some of the despair that we have in our neighborhoods.”

When it comes to violent crimes in general, the number is exactly the same, 805 in the last six months of 2012 and 805 in the first six months of 2013. The report shows murder is down 7.7 percent and rape is down 27.9 percent.  Aggravated assault is also down 9.7 percent and when it comes to robbery it shows it is up by 19.2 percent.

Robbery is the only major violent crime that has gone up in our area, but what really caught our eye was the number of firearms used during these robberies.  The report shows out of the 354 robberies this year, 150 involved a firearm, that's up by 24 percent.
Local gun advocates tell us this is proof that the New York SAFE Act isn't going to be an effective tool in fighting crime anywhere in the state.

Mike Centola, All Star Tactical, said, “Basically, the statistics show that the laws are not helping the problem, they are hurting it. In fact, it hinders the ability of the private citizen to protect their family and to protect others. I think it's pretty cut and dry, the information is there. I just don't think the governor is listening.”

The Criminal Justice Service released a statement saying, “The SAFE Act's universal background checks is for all gun purchases, the same type that are supported by more than 90 percent of Americans It closed a dangerous loophole that allowed criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Our upstate cities have seen a decrease in gun crimes during the last year.”

They mean all upstate cities combined and when we asked them what they had to say about Rochester's numbers increasing, they referred us to the RPD. We'll get their answer Friday when the chief talks to the media about these numbers.