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NYC's Central Park sees spike in robberies, several recent attacks

Central Park crime spike prompts police response
Central Park crime spike prompts police response 03:09

NEW YORK - Police are investigating several recent attacks in Central Park, including a woman who was hit with a hammer, and a star of "Boardwalk Empire" who had rocks hurled at him. 

Early Monday morning, just after midnight, police said a 39-year-old woman in Central Park near 64th Street and Center Drive was approached by a man who hit her in the back with a hammer. 

Authorities said the attack was unprovoked, and that the suspect then took off on a moped. 

The woman suffered minor injuries, and police are searching for the suspect. 

Just a few hours prior, Sunday at around 8 p.m., police said actor Michael Suthlbar, well-known for his role in "Boardwalk Empire," was walking near 90th Street and East Drive in Central Park when he was hit in the neck with a rock. He wasn't seriously injured. Police said Stuhlbarg then chased the suspect towards East 91st Street. Police took the suspect, 27-year-old Xavier Israel, into custody. Police say Israel is homeless. He was charged with assault. 

Stuhlbarg is currently appearing in "Patriots" on Broadway and will perform at Monday night's first preview as scheduled.   

"Pretty shocking to hear. Probably around 8 p.m. you wouldn't expect it, but midnight is not a time we would ordinarily expect to walk in the park," Upper East Side resident Lawrence Normoyle said. 

New Yorkers and tourists say they have their ways of keeping safe in the park. 

"I come from Milan, and we also have a big park in the city center," tourist Tommaso Paolucci said. "As a general rule, city parks at night aren't the best places to go." 

"Often I'm wearing my headphones, so I'm trying not to wear my headphones as much and be more aware," one person said. 

In addition to the recent assaults, police sources confirm two robberies took place within the last week in the park. Sources said a 38-year-old man was robbed at knifepoint near 77 East Drive Wednesday, and on Tuesday two people sitting on a bench were robbed at knifepoint near 64 Center Drive. 

Police sources said a pattern has been established connecting those two incidents, and other robberies, to the same group of teenagers. So far, no arrests have been made. 

According to NYPD crime statistics, up until March 24, the Central Park precinct has seen a spike in robberies. A total of 10 robberies have been reported so far, compare to two during the same period last year. 

The Central Park Conservancy has a map of the park that includes all the locations of emergency call boxes

Anyone with information about the various crimes is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.

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