By Alexander Dworkowitz
Police and Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) are pushing the management of the large parking lots for The College Point Multiplex Cinema and Target to install security cameras to help combat a high rate of car thefts.
The parking lots of the multiplex at 28-55 Ulmer St. and the national retail chain at 135-05 20th Ave. have become favorite locations for car thieves, according to police.
Each lot often has five to 10 vehicles stolen from its premises every month, police said.
At the beginning of 2002, car thefts spiked in the 109th Precinct, which includes College Point, Whitestone, Flushing and Bay Terrace. Since then, however, they have steadily declined. The crime is down more than 40 percent for the first six weeks of 2003 as compared with 2002, according to police statistics.
But the movie theater and Target continue to have car thefts.
“It's still a problem,” said 109th Community Affairs Officer Ki-Soo Kim. “We are doing what we can to address it.”
As part of their fight against the thefts, officials with the 109th have met with the management of the two lots, seeking to have security cameras installed.
Avella also has recently gotten involved and written to the management of each lot urging them to install the cameras.
“The bottom line is people aren't safe with their cars there, so something has to improve,” Avella said.
Harvey Bergman, property manager of Triangle Equities, which manages the movie theater's lot, said his company was taking the precinct's suggestion seriously.
“It's a possibility, but like anything else it's a budget constraint,” he said.
Bergman said Triangle had beefed up its security personnel by 25 percent in the last year.
“We have done a lot to increase security personnel,” he said. “Unfortunately, today's car thieves are very sophisticated. They can take a car in two minutes.”
Bergman said he thought the police were doing a good job but said he would like to see a greater police presence. He also questioned if cameras would actually cut thefts.
Police believe the two parking lots are vulnerable because they are near exits on the Whitestone Expressway, which connects to four other highways and provides a quick escape.
Bergman, however, noted that the 20th Avenue parking lot of Old Navy, Starbucks and McDonald's, also run by Triangle, has very few cars stolen, even though the lot is also located right off the Whitestone Expressway.
Avella said he would like to see security cameras at large parking lots not just in College Point but throughout the borough.
“I am working on legislation that would require any retail establishment that has more than 200 parking spaces to install security cameras and monitors,” he said.
The management of Target's lot could not be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718 229-0300, Ext. 141.