Cops Battling Maspeth, Woodside Break-Ins
The border of the 104th and 108th precincts in Maspeth/Woodside has become a hot spot for burglaries, representatives of both precincts told members of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together civic group at its Monday, Feb. 4 meeting at the Bethzatha Church of God.
“We are getting hit with burglaries,” Capt. Christopher Manson, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, told the the crowd, adding that the command will be using unmarked police cars in the hopes of arresting the perpetrators as opposed to displacing them in other areas of the precinct.
“We want to catch them,” he declared.
In total, the area of the 104th Precinct covered by COMET had seven burglaries over the past 28 days, including three in the area around 72nd Place.
Manson noted that the 108th Precinct arrested a man for burglary who may also be responsible for other burglaries in the 108th as well as the 104th.
“He has an extensive arrest history.” Manson noted, with 15 arrests for larceny, robbery and drug possession.
“He’s fueling his drug habit,” Manson hypothesized.
Since his arrests, burglaries in the area have ceased, he added.
The 104th Precinct also made two other arrests, including a man caught in the act of burglarizing a local home.
Capt. Terrence O’Toole. the former executive officer of the 108th Precinct, urged residents to protect their property by keeping windows and doors locked, by recording serial numbers and by using the Find my iPhone app on.
“Cameras right now are like $500,” he added. “They’re the best investment going.”
Two stolen cars were also reported, although the precinct is down in auto thefts.
In addition, three larcenies oc- curred, including the theft of tires and rims, a practice Manson called “an increasing thing over the past several years.”
Manson noted that the process of stealing thefts and rims can take “about five minutes.”
“It’s very hard to catch them because we never get a 911 call,” the commander added, because the thefts usually take place between 2 and 4 a.m. He later added that “they hit areas that they know are quiet, residential, tree-lined streets.”
However, two crews were recently caught by the 104th Precinct, Manson stated.
The command also continues to battle illegally parked cars and trucks, according to Manson, and cracking down on drunk drivers.
“Capt. [John] Travaglia is all over it,” said Manson, referring to one of the precinct’s executive officers. “He’s excellent at it.”
COMET President Rosemarie Daraio asked officers if tires and rims could have identification numbers etched on them like other car parts.
She noted that one person was caught selling rims and tires which were allegedly stolen in West Maspeth to New Jersey residents via Craigslist, but proving that the merchandise belonged to another person is difficult.
It was noted, however, that such after-market etchings would void the warranty on the tires and rims.
P.O. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit noted that the police is looking to alleviate a parking crunch around Maspeth High School, located at 54- 40 74th St. Teachers have reportedly been illegally parking cars around the new facility, he noted, adding that one resident had been taking photos of the vehicular scofflaws.
Bell added that some teachers have been seen making phony Department of Education placards claiming that they can park in illegal spots; he stressed that the agency does not offer such placards to teachers at the school.
“They’ve been told by the administrator at the school, if the cars are out there, they are going to get summonsed,” he stated.
Police Officers Louis Sorrentino and Juan Diaz of the 108th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit noted that five burglaries occurred in COMET’s area, with several near the 104th Precinct’s border, also near 72nd Place.
“We think that’s all the same guy,” said Sorrentino.
There were no stolen cars in the precinct, but three grand larcenies were reported. Two of those stemmed from credit-card fraud.
One robbery occurred, a violent incident a hotel on Queens Boulevard and 73rd Street when four men confronted a resident and took his cellphone.
So far this year, the precinct is down six percent in crime.
Sorrentino asked Daraio and other COMET members who email the precinct not to mention specifics, as the emails can be subpoenaed for cases. Instead, they were told to offer general info and allow officers to follow up.
“It’s all about putting things on paper,” he said. “Once you put things on paper, and especially when you send it to the police department, that’s it. Game on. We can use it, and [defense attorneys] can use it.”
Sorrentino also spoke on the precinct’s continuing efforts to fight a body shop owner who continues to illegally park cars near St. Mary’s Winfield Church. He explained that officers are on the lookout for cars parked on city streets for more than seven days, using chalk markings to check if the car’s tires have moved.
“This guy with the white livery cabs, we go after him, because he doesn’t live here. He lives on Staten Island,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of him.”
He added that other city and state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Buildings, have taken action against him.
Although the 110th Precinct was up over nine percent in crime in 2012, Capt. Ralph Forgione, the new executive officer of the 110th Precinct, announced that the command is already down five percent so far this year.
He promised that the precinct will continue to be aggressive, telling the crowd that “we have a lot of warrants going on; we’re going to be taking a lot of people down in the future.”
In COMET’s area, crime is down 25 percent for the year, with five grand larcenies, two assaults, one burglary and one auto larceny in the territory since the start of the year. Forgione noted that two of the five grand larcenies stemmed from residents leaving their credit cards in their vehicles, which were then broken into.
“Don’t leave your credit cards in the car,” he stressed.
Daraio noted that a homeless man who last year built a wooden “shanty McShack” along the Long Island Rail Road tracks near Grand Avenue (across from Elmhurst Park) has been seen constructing a similar fort nearby.
“He’s a nut and he’s gotta go,” she told Forgione, who promised to investigate.
Fight to save Flushing Meadows
Local activist Christina Wilkinson announced that she and other activists have formed a coalition of local civic groups called “Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park” to oppose the various developments being debated for the public space.
Currently, three projects are being proposed at the park-a proposed shopping mall, soccer stadium and an expansion of the U.S. Tennis Association’s facility.
“Parks are supposed to be there for recreation for the public, not for businesses to make money off of,” she stated.
According to Wilkinson, there is no guarantee that the parkland used for these projects will be replaced elsewhere.
She added that the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Juniper Park Civic Association have signed onto the coalition. COMET members unanimously voted to join them.
COMET gave an award of appreciation to O’Toole. the former executive officer of the 108th Precinct. They also had an award for Deputy Inspector Michael Cody, the former commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, but he was unable to attend. Manson, his successor, accepted it on his behalf.
The next COMET meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday night, Mar. 4, at 7 p.m. at Bethzatha Church of God, located at 85-20 57th Ave. in Elmhurst. For more information, visit www.cometcivic.com.