Today’s news:

108th Pct. murder rate increased in ’08: NYPD

Major crimes in the 108th Precinct were down in 2008, but the murder rate climbed considerably, according to online police statistics through Dec. 21, 2008.

The precinct, which covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside, had an 8.3 percent drop in major index crimes in 2008. The police track murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft for their statistics.

Murders were on the rise, with three homicides in 2008 compared with one in 2007.

The first victim of 2008 was Joseph Prince, 30, a Long Island City man who was shot dead at a Mexican restaurant during a social gathering Jan. 27, 2008. Police had not made any arrests in the case.

The second victim was 29−year−old Kulwinder Kaur, an immigrant from India, who was stabbed to death by her husband during a fight during the evening of April 6, 2008, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Police arrested 34−year−old Balbir Singh on suspicion of the murder.

The third victim was 59−year−old Carol Christianson, who was stabbed and strangled to death by Michael Bohan, a 45−year−old homeless man, near the Queens Boulevard off−ramp from the Brooklyn−Queens Expressway Sept. 6, 2008, police said.

Bohan was arrested the same night and charged with the murder, police said.

Rapes were down to 10 in 2008 from 15 in 2007, a drop of 33 percent. Felony assaults fell to 109 from 131 in 2007, a 16.7 percent drop, and burglaries were at 280 compared with 325 for the same period of 2007, a 13.8 percent drop. Auto thefts were also on the decline, with 210 through Dec. 21, 2008 compared with 261 for the same period of 2007, a 19.5 percent decrease.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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