109th Precinct helps holiday shoppers stay safe

The 109th Precinct says crime is down, but Detective Kevin O’Donnell offers pointers to help residents avoid becoming victims of crime this holiday season.
By Connor Adams Sheets

Crime has declined for the year in the 109th Precinct, but as the holidays approach, police want to ensure that people remain diligent to avoid becoming victims.

Community Affairs Detective Kevin O’Donnell spoke at last Thursday’s Our Flushing Political Coalition meeting on the topic, providing area leaders with a number of measures residents can take to lower their risk of being targeted.

“Crime overall is down almost 10 percent over last year,” he said. “But around this time last year we started seeing a spike in crime.”

As of Tuesday, crime was down 9.4 percent overall from last year and burglaries were down 12.4 percent despite a recent uptick, according to O’Donnell. Grand larcenies have also decreased. Robberies were up 1.3 percent over last year.

Despite these encouraging statistics, crimes still occur across the precinct and a significant percentage of them could have been prevented, O’Donnell said, if people took simple preventive steps.

The best tip for helping to avoid all types of crime is to call 911 to report any suspicious activity or person, according to police.

Theft from vehicles is one of the more common crimes in the precinct. Overall, there have been 232 robberies this year, up from 229 last year.

Suggestions to prevent theft from vehicles and other robberies include:

• ensuring valuables are not visible when leaving your vehicle, even for a short time.

• not using suction-cup windshield attachments for GPS units.

• not leaving bags of purchases in your vehicle when you go to a another store when shopping.

• using locks on expensive tires and rims.

• never leaving your vehicle running while unattended, even for a short time.

• always locking your windows and doors while in your vehicle.

• not displaying your cell phone in public by texting, wearing it on your belt or wearing earbuds.

• not displaying cash in public.

• keeping bags and pocketbooks on your person.

Home burglaries are a particular concern when traveling for the holidays, O’Donnell said.

Suggestions to prevent burglaries include:

• always setting your alarm, locking your windows and deadbolting your door even when leaving home for a short time.

• using timers on lights and staggering the start times in different rooms.

• using sensor lighting outside your home.

• stopping mail if traveling for a long period.

• leaving a radio on at home when traveling.

• forwarding home calls to your cell phone while gone.

“Crime needs an opportunity, that’s what I always tell people. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to make you a victim of a crime. It just takes doing a few smart things,” O’Donnell said Tuesday.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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