This year saw a slight uptick in New York City's crime rates. Some crime specialists say they would not be surprised if it increased for the third straight year.

Dr. Naftali Berrill believes that the economy will be the biggest determining factor for crime in 2012.

My feeling is, if the economy is rocky, that is to say people continue to be unemployed and work is scarce, you can almost predict crime rates will go up, he said. That is usually the best indicator. Dr. Berrill is a forensic psychologist and is the director of the New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science.  He has years of experience dealing with crime and criminals and analyzing behavior.

If the economy does not improve, people will begin feeling financial strains. It's going to put a lot of pressure on people, he says. The economy causes a chain reaction with crime, he noted. Financial pressures could increase alcohol and drug abuse in families. Therefore domestic violence could go up. You are going to have more tension in household. He says people become bitter, maybe because they were recently laid off, and you are going to see more acting out, says Berrill.

Police sources also tell International Business Times' Crimes of New York that the newest police academy class, set to begin mid-January 2012, will have about only 800 recruits. That is only about half the amount of officers that graduated from the July 2011 class. Berrill said that a less police presence on the streets, combined with the other issues related to the economy, could lead to a potentially bad situation for New Yorkers.

You are only opening the door for more chaos and more problems to emerge. It is not that people are committing crimes because of less police, but with less police these issues are not addressed quickly, says Berrill. So people fall through the cracks. Neighborhoods are not being monitored as carefully.

As mentioned in previous Crimes of New York articles, subway crime is also on the rise and must be addressed in 2012. Reports indicate that subway crime has surged nearly 22 percent this year. Electronics, especially the iPhone and other Apple products, are a hot-ticket item for thieves.

It is part of the consumer mentality. You have limited access to funds, says Berril. You have an item that everyone must have and that will lead to crime.

Michael Cohen is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business. iPhone theft is certainly a major issue that must be addressed. Cohen says that the Apple brand is what makes these smartphones so attractive to potential thieves.

The difference between what people would pay for the unbranded smartphone and Apple iPhone is what we call brand equity, he says in an email. Apple builds brand equity with all the marketing activities they engage in: product design, promotional schemes, and placement. Cohen says that it is this brand equity that makes people buy the iPhone and Apple products over other similar items.

So this leads me to believe that the thief steals an iPhone because it's there, not because the thief has affection for Apple's iPhone, but because society does.

Dr. Berrill appeared to agree with Cohen's claim.

Everyone wants them, everyone feels they need them. This is the must have item, he says. These items are costly.

The NYPD has conducted sting operations in order to curtail the thefts. Police officers pose as thieves, looking to sell stolen electronics to bodegas and delis. Police officers have also been posing as potential targets in order to root out thieves in the transit systems.

Police officials refused to comment on 2012 crime predictions for New York.

Crime rates in New York City have come a long way since 1990 when there were 2,245 murders in that one year. Since 1991, crime rates saw a continuous 15 year decrease in crime and starting in 2005. However, statistics show that there was an increase in crime in 2010.

Offense

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Murder and Non-Negl. Manslaughter  

673

649

587

597

570

539

596

496

523

471

536

Rape

2,068

1981

2,144

2,070

1,905

1,858

1,525

1,351

1,299

1,205

1,373

Robbery

32,562

28,202

27,229

25,989

24,373

24,722

23,739

21,809

22,401

18,601

19,486

Felony Assault

25,924

23,435

21,147

19,139

18,622

17,750

17,309

17,493

16,284

18,773

16,956

Burglary

38,352

32,763

31,275

29,110

26,976

24,117

23,143

21,762

20,725

19,430

18,600

Grand Larceny

49,631

46,329

45,771

46,751

48,763

48,243

46,625

44,924

44,242

39,580

37,835

Grand Larceny of Motor Vehicle

35,442

29,531

26,656

23,413

20,884

18,246

15,745

13,174

12,482

10,670

10,329

(Source: NYPD)

New York City is still considered one of, if not the, safest city in the United States. However, it is certainly important to address the major criminal issues for the coming year.