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New York City crime is down after Sandy, but worry remains

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Crime in New York City decreased 27 percent in the week since superstorm Sandy made landfall compared with the same period a year ago, and burglaries and disputes in gas station lines accounted for most of the storm-related arrests, police said on Monday.

From Monday to Sunday, murder dropped by 86 percent, rape by 41 percent, robbery by 21 percent, assault by 19 percent, larceny by 47 percent and car thefts by 20 percent. Burglaries rose by 6 percent.

"With seven full days to compare, including this past weekend, overall crime is down 27 percent for the week," New York police spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement.

The New York City Police Department made 123 storm-related arrests Sandy came ashore - including 54 for burglary and 41 stemming from disputes at gas station lines.

Overall, 655 fewer crimes were reported compared with the same period a year ago.

The drop in crime came as New York police have been stretched to respond to one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region. Dangerous rescue efforts have become necessary and widespread power cuts have raised concerns about crime in darkened neighborhoods.

On Tuesday - Election Day - additional officers will be posted at the city's 1,199 polling places.

In addition, thousands of police officers are stationed in parts of the city that remains without power, and at all open gas stations, Browne said.

Drivers have been lining up at gas stations for hours and tempers have been fraying as gas became scarce. At least 10 people were arrested on Friday for various disputes over line jumping, and five people were arrested for disorderly conduct at gas stations on Saturday.

In Queens, more than 15 people have been charged with looting and a man was charged with threatening another driver with a gun after trying to cut in on a line of cars waiting for gas, the district attorney's office said.

(Reporting By Edith Hona; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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