A spate of armed robberies has occurred across Washington, D.C. since the start of the new year, police said.

According to Metropolitan Police Department figures, armed robberies were up nearly 70 percent in the first three weeks of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago.

In Police Service Area 401, which covers the northern tip of the city east of Rock Creek Park, there were eight armed robberies in the first three weeks of the year alone.

The robbers “have shattered the sense of peace in the neighborhood,” D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who organized a community meeting in that area to discuss the issue, told The Washington Post.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told the Post that police are investigating repeat offenders and individuals recently released from jail to see if there is a link to the uptick in robberies. She also said additional uniformed and plainclothes officers were deployed in January, and the department may set up cameras in areas where there has been an increase in crime.

The city also plans to deploy on-duty firefighters as an additional deterrent, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander told the Post.

D.C. police said they are stepping up coordination with officials in nearby Montgomery County, Md. to combat what they consider a shared problem. At a community meeting Jan. 23, Fourth District Commander Kimberly Chisley-Missouri said county police are cooperating with neighboring jurisdictions in Maryland to address cross-border crime.