Auto theft in northern Queens is up 13 percent in 2010 with 12 percent of total thefts being Ford Econoline vans, according to police officials. A recorded 115 vans have been stolen so far this year, a 174 percent increase from the 42 that were stolen in 2009.
“It’s a borough wide phenomenon,” said Lieutenant Dan Heffernan of the 111th Precinct. “It’s a very popular vehicle in the trade industry . . . as they get older, parts become more in demand.”
Heffernan described the parts of the Econoline as “interchangeable” throughout the years making them a black-market commodity. While increasing patrols and putting crime alert notices on vans may help spread awareness, there are many options auto owners may take to prevent theft.
Having a vehicle identification number (VIN) etched onto all glass serves to deter theft and trace stolen parts. The crime prevention units at the 109th and 111th Precincts urge drivers to park in garages whenever possible, use all locks and alarms and to call 9-1-1 immediately when faced with a suspicious situation.
To learn about free auto theft reduction programs offered by the NYPD, call the crime prevention units at the 111th Precinct at 718-279-5215 and the 109th Precinct at 718-321-2270.