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THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
The 109th Precinct awarded the Chung Fat Supermarket for aiding in the arrest of a pickpocket with an extensive criminal history.

Police are beefing up efforts to protect downtown Flushing shoppers from pickpockets ahead of the Lunar New Year, as grand larcenies have more than doubled since last year.

“We will be taking extra precaution, with the community carrying lots of money,” said Inspector Brian Maguire, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct.

A command post vehicle will be stationed outside the Flushing branch of the Queens Library over the weekend, at the start of new year celebrations, Maguire said.

The precinct has also amped up awareness initiatives and held a crime prevention seminar Tuesday for local business owners.

Officers played surveillance footage of pickpockets to show how fast the crime can occur when property is unattended or victims are unaware.

“In the blink of an eye, your bag is gone,” said Captain Tommy Ng, the precinct’s executive officer.

Last year, the precinct saw a 53 percent increase in grand larcenies from 2012, Maguire said.

The crime, which includes credit-card fraud, phone thefts and shoplifting, is still rising.

Grand larcenies in the precinct have spiked more than 56 percent so far since last year, jumping from 48 to 75 incidents in the first three weeks of January to date, an NYPD spokesperson said.

Maguire said a partnership between the NYPD and local businesses could whittle down rising numbers.

Officials from the Chung Fat Supermarket on Main Street recently helped officers arrest a pickpocket with an extensive criminal history, he said.

“I truly believe that working together, we can achieve great things,” Maguire said. “We will make Flushing safer, trust me. We all should have this as a common goal.”

Ng warned diners not to hang their purses over chairs at restaurants or bars. He also told store owners to be wary of people who reappear multiple times without making a purchase.

“That should raise a flag immediately,” Ng said. “He is not your customer. He is in your store to commit a crime.”

 

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