By Ayala Ben-Yehuda
The 111th Precinct’s first rape of 2004, in which a woman was attacked and robbed in her Auburndale home last week, has brought stepped-up patrols and a push by a local civic group to renew neighborhood watch programs in the area.
A 36-year-old Asian woman was awakened around 11:15 p.m. Jan. 14 by three men who had broken into the back door of her home near the Horace Harding Expressway, said Capt. Thomas Pilkington of the 111th Precinct.
Pilkington said the men, described by police as three Hispanics, confronted the woman in her bedrooom and “demanded to know where the money was.”
Two of the men went looking for the woman’s purse while the third man raped and sodomized her, he said. The men stole $300, jewelry, a TV and other items, he said.
The woman’s child was sleeping in the house at the time, said Pilkington, who did not know whether the woman was specifically targeted.
Police said the woman was treated at New York Hospital Queens. The captain did not release the victim’s name or address, but local civic leaders said the attack occurred within the boundaries of Auburndale.
“I’m definitely concerned about this,” said Pilkington, adding that patrols in the area had been increased since the attack, which was the precinct’s first recorded rape this year.
The 111th, which covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens and part of Auburndale, reported no rapes last year, police statistics show.
“This is tragic. This is a terrible thing,” said Jim Rodgers, president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, calling his neighborhood “one of the gems of the city.”
“In the past (we) have had block watchers and block captains. But as neighbors have changed and people have moved on, a lot of those people are no longer with us,” said Rodgers.
The civic leader said his group would try to start up a neighborhood watch program again and would invite local police to discuss home security with Auburndale residents.
“What we’re going to try to do is encourage our neighbors to look out for each other,” he said.
Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece, former head of the civic association in nearby Bayside Hills, renewed his call for more police in the 111th Precinct as a deterrent to would-be criminals.
Iannece told a community meeting last spring that the number of officers in the 111th had dropped from a high of 160 in 1997 to just over 100.
“We have a spike in our area of burglaries,” said Iannece. “I think it links with the number of officers we have in the 111th Precinct.”
He added, “I’ve been crying this for years.”
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.