Three Precincts Say They’re ‘On A Roll’
Recent drops in major crimes were reported by representatives of the three precincts patrolling Elmhurst, Maspeth and Woodside during last Monday’s (Mar. 4) meeting of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) civic association at Bethzatha Church of God.
Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson, commander of the 110th Precinct, told attendees the force has experienced a 14 percent decrease in felonies during the most recent 28- day period and an 11 percent drop for the year. All but one of the seven major crime categories assessed by the NYPD CompStat program (murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft) were down over the first two months of 2013.
Rape, in fact, was the only category which increased for the year, Leyson noted, with five cases reported, compared to three at the same time last year. In all of the incidents, he pointed out, the victim was known to the suspect.
As for the areas of Elmhurst included in COMET’s jurisdiction, the deputy inspector reported that 13 crimes took place over the previous four weeks, including five grand larcenies, four robberies, two burglaries, a felony assault and an auto theft. Larcenies involving youths, he noted, have been particularly problematic in the area of Queens Boulevard between Grand Avenue and Van Loon Street.
Recently, the 110th Precinct collared a crew of teenagers from south Queens who traveled to the area to rob individuals of cell phones. According to Leyson, officers learned that the group would come to Elmhurst via the local subway lines, depart and rob victims, then return to their hometowns and sell the hot items at area stores.
“These kids say that for a Samsung Galaxy, they can get up to $350 cash” by selling it at a store in their neighborhoods, Leyson said.
The group of teens responsible for the thefts were busted by the precinct through increased enforcement in response to reports of such larcenies in the Elmhurst area, the commander noted. He warned residents to avoid using their cell phones on the street or on subway trains, adding that crooks generally target distracted individuals.
COMET President Rosemarie Daraio urged Leyson to seek greater enforcement against commuter vans operating illegally on Elmhurst streets. She stated that the civic group has repeatedly reached out to the Taxi and Limousine Commission seeking assistance, but the agency has become unresponsive.
Major felonies were down 25 percent across the 104th Precinct’s confines during the most recent four-week period, reported Capt. Christopher Manson, the force’s commanding officer.
“We’re on a roll here,” he said, pointing out declines in robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, grand larcenies and auto thefts. Around the area of Maspeth patrolled by the precinct, the captain explained, the last 28-day period included two robberies, four grand larcenies, one auto theft and three burglaries.
Looking to combat burglaries in the area, Manson noted, the precinct expanded plainclothes patrols around Maspeth and also received assistance from the Burglary Larceny Apprehension Support Team (BLAST). The precinct is also monitoring two individuals recently arrested on a drug bust in the 108th Precinct who are also suspected of committing the recent break-ins, he added.
Manson also mentioned the precinct conducted a major DWI initiative around its confines during the weekend of Mar. 2-3, locking up “a whole bunch of people” for allegedly driving drunk. Officers from the precinct continue to issue summonses to truck drivers operating illegally along Grand and Flushing avenues, he added.
The 104th Precinct has also been moving its mobile command unit around Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village; Manson stated the vehicle was recently stationed at the corner of 69th Street and Grand Avenue.
As the weather gets warmer, he noted, the command unit will have officers distributing crime prevention material on the street wherever the van is situated.
Crime is down around the confines of the 108th Precinct, includings the areas of Maspeth and Woodside in COMET’s jurisdiction, according to P.O. Luis Diaz of the 108th Precinct Community Affairs Unit.
During the most recent 28-day period, there were a total of six crimes in Maspeth and Woodside, including a felony assault, a domestic rape, two grand larcenies and two auto thefts. The grand larceny cases involved the theft of credit card information, Diaz explained, while the felony assault involved a suspect who allegedly attempted to run over an officer with his vehicle during a routine traffic stop in the area of 40th Avenue and 67th Street.
Diaz was asked by COMET Vice President Richard Gundlach about a recent burglary of a home on 72nd Street in which a house alarm was activated, but police did not respond for several hours. Reportedly, after the alarm had been triggered, the alarm company contacted 911 to report a possible break-in.
According to Daraio, the 911 operator allegedly misinterpreted the call and classified it as being “nonpriority.” Officers from the 108th Precinct reportedly responded to the home two hours after the burglary took place.
Leyson sought to explain why the mistake took place, noting the vast majority of calls regarding an activated house alarm are found to be unfounded or accidental. He stressed the importance of neighbors to call police immediately and report a crime in progress if they hear an alarm from a nearby home and witness suspicious activity in or near the location.
COMET is reaching out to Maspeth High School and P.S. 58 regarding the relocation of waste bins behind their campuses on 57th Avenue. According to Daraio, residents on the block have complained that litter has blown away from the bins across the street to their homes, and Sanitation Department officers have fined the homeowners for having trash strewn about their property.
The organization is also pursuing an additional Q58 bus to pick up children from outside I.S. 73 in Maspeth, citing a large number of students wait at different bus stops along Grand Avenue after dismissal.
Joann Berger, who heads COMET’s Education Committee, reported she reached out to MTA representatives about having a bus stop in front of I.S. 73 on 71st Street near 54th Avenue, but there may not be enough room to accommodate it safely. There are also three different dismissal times at I.S. 73, which Berger noted fluctuates the number of students who wait for buses around the area.
The civic group’s president also informed residents she has contacted Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, Assemblyman Michael DenDekker and State Sen. Joseph Addabbo to investigate a number of taxes charged on electric bills. In recently calculating her own bill, she found that there were “a lot of little taxes” which cumulatively accounted for about 10 percent of the monthly charge.
“I wonder if that’s the reason why our bills are going up,” Daraio said.
Daraio announced that the civic group is teaming up with Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and the 104th Precinct to hold an Earth Day event on Saturday, Apr. 20, in the parking lot of Maspeth Federal’s main branch on 69th Street and Grand Avenue.
The event will include free paper shredding and electronic waste collection. Daraio added that 104th Precinct officers will also be on hand for VIN etching to help guard against auto theft. Reportedly, auto insurance carriers offer discounts to drivers who have VINs etched in their vehicle’s windows and parts.
Daraio added that COMET’s May meeting-which will held one week later than originally scheduled, on Monday, May 13-will feature Rep. Grace Meng as the special guest speaker.
The next COMET meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday night, Apr. 1, at 7 p.m. at Bethzatha Church of God, located at 85-20 57th Ave. in Elmhurst. For more information, visit www.cometcivic.com.