By Joe Anuta
April’s Cops of the Month in the 109th Precinct arrested several young suspects and charged them with a crime that is driving up larceny numbers all over the city: cellphone thefts.
On March 2, a 30-year-old woman was on 45th Avenue in Flushing at around 1:10 p.m. when she was approached by a pack of teenagers, according to police.
One of the teens snatched her iPhone, and when the woman tried to get it back, the youngsters punched her in the face before slamming her head into a parked car, police said.
The teenagers fled into a nearby building and the woman alerted the authorities.
Police Officers J. Yong Sim and Daniel Song responded, entered the premises and immediately found the alleged culprits.
“When we went in, the kids were there and we made the arrest,” Song told a Community Precinct Council meeting last week.
Three teens — Steven Arenas, 16; Shaquille McKoy, 17; and Valerie Sanchez, 16 — were charged with second-degree robbery, police said.
Capt. Christopher Manson, executive officer at the 109th Precinct, has repeatedly said iPhone thefts are plaguing the area and urged residents not to walk the streets of Flushing while dialing into their phones and oblivious to their surroundings.
Manson played footage of an iPhone robbery on a city subway train.
In the footage, an unsuspecting commuter is using an iPhone near the doors of the subway car. The train pulls into a station and the doors open. Just as they began to shut again, a thief snatches the iPhone out of the commuter’s hands and flees while the train continues on to the next stop.
Manson also had common sense advice about home invasions and burglaries: Lock your doors and windows.
He said burglars often find a target during the day by approaching a house and ringing the doorbell. If no one answers, the thieves walk to the back of the house, open a door or window or push an air conditioner through a window and enter the house. In a matter of minutes they have often ransacked the premises and flee.
Burglars are like car thieves, Manson said, because if your home is locked, they will move on to the next one.
The captain also went through the crime stats for the month.
In the year to date, the precinct saw a 5.4 percent increase in crime compared to the same period last year. Murders were down to one this year compared to three a year earlier for a drop of 66.7 percent.
There have been six rapes this year compared to three last year, although all of the victims and attackers were known to each other and no one was attacked by a stranger.
Robberies were down to 67 compared with 68 last year, a drop of 1.5 percent.
Felony assaults were up to 69 compared with 60 last year, an increase of 15 percent, and burglaries were up to 115 this year compared to 90 last year, an increase of 27.8 percent.
Manson said the unseasonably warm winter contributed to the rise in crimes, since most residents, including criminals, are not outside during the snowy winter months.
Grand larceny, which includes iPhone snatches, is up to 187 this year compared with 180 last year, but car thefts are down to 60 this year, compared with 75 last year.
Manson also told residents that the NYPD will be enforcing regulations that require motorists to stop when a school bus extends its stop sign while letting off students — even if the bus is in the opposite side of a four-lane road like Northern Boulevard.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.