Lt.: 104th Precinct Making Many Arrests
Some notable arrests and enforcement operations by the 104th Precinct-as well as problems related to an allegedly illegal auto repair business in Glendale-were the focus of the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting last Wednesday night, Mar. 27, at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall in Glendale.
Lt. James Lombardi-the 104th Precinct’s special operations coordinator who spoke on behalf of Capt. Christopher Manson, the precinct’s commander, who was not in attendance- reported that overall crime is down about 3.6 percent for the year. However, he noted the command is battling increases in grand larcenies, felony assaults and burglaries.
“We are really making some headway” in combating break-ins, Lombardi said, pointing out that burglaries dropped by 25 percent in the previous 28-day period that concluded on Mar. 24. In previous weeks, police attributed a decline in break-ins to a number of arrests of suspects connected to recent burglaries around the 104th Precinct area.
In addition to fighting burglaries, Lombardi noted, the command made numerous arrests in sting operations for various other crimes. Nine store owners were arrested in the last week for allegedly buying stolen goods from undercover officers in “fencing operations” conducted by the 104th Precinct.
“If somebody tells you, ‘Would you like to buy it? It’s stolen,'” the lieutenant stated, “the answer should always be, ‘No.'”
The 104th Precinct also conducted undercover operations at local bars and stores in recent weeks to stop businesses from selling alcohol to underage individuals, Lombardi stated. Of the 35 locations visited by the command, up to 15 grocery stores, bars and bodegas were cited for selling alcoholic beverages to undercover agents recruited from the precinct’s Auxiliary Unit.
One such business-a deli at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and Madison Street in Ridgewood-was shut down by police for up to four days after being busted for selling alcohol to underage individuals for the third time in a six-month period, Lombardi said. The owners of the business had to pay a steep fine and agree to a number of restrictions in order to reopen, he added.
Police also collared four thieves who allegedly tried to steal unattended property at local stores in a “Lucky Bag” enforcement operation, the lieutenant stated. Additionally, eight drivers were busted in a precinct-wide DWI operation on Mar. 2, and another 11 individuals were arrested in an anti-prostitution sting in the vicinity of Cypress Avenue and Starr Street in Ridgewood which took place on Mar. 23.
Asked about efforts to combat graffiti, Lombardi stated the precinct has made about 73 arrests of alleged vandals this year, ranking them in the top three precincts in the entire city. The command is currently in the process of cataloguing vandalized locations in planning for a mass graffiti cleanup scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.
Residents on 79th Avenue in the Liberty Park section of Glendale called for police to crack down on an allegedly illegal auto repair shop set up inside two residential garages near the corner of Cypress and 79th avenues.
According to attendees, the location is active at all hours of the day, with the work taking place in garages as well as on the street. When residents tried to directly tell the business owners to stop, the attendees claimed, the workers became hostile and issued verbal threats.
“It’s absolutely insane,” said one resident, who went on to note that “They’re abusing the whole neighborhood.”
Lombardi said officers would be dispatched to the location to investigate the situation and take appropriate measures to cease any illegal activity.
A resident living near Mafera Park in Ridgewood urged the precinct to take enforcement action against individuals who double- and triple-park their vehicles on surrounding streets. He also claimed individuals also loiter in the park during nights on weekends, setting up barbecues on athletic fields and littering.
Lombardi noted he would send officers to investigate the situation and summons offenders.
Police also addressed reports by residents of drag racing taking place along Cypress Avenue between Vermont Place and Cypress Hills Street in Glendale during nighttime hours. P.O. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct stated officers were sent to investigate the condition, and while vehicles were found to be speeding, there was no indication of any organized racing taking place on the strip.
Nonetheless, Bell noted, the command will continue to monitor the location.
Cop of the Month
P.O. Robert Sowden of the 104th Precinct was honored as Cop of the Month for helping to arrest a man who allegedly broke into the Frito- Lay warehouse on a number of occasions and stole cartons of snacks for sale on the black market.
As previously reported in the Times Newsweekly, the suspect- Robert Connolly, 34, of Hart Street in Brooklyn-was busted for allegedly breaking into the warehouse and parking lot located on Flushing Avenue near Charlotte Street on the morning of Feb. 15.
Lombardi said Sowden was part of a sting operation set up as a result of a host of burglaries at the warehouse dating back to the summer of 2012. In each instance, cases of snacks were stolen from the location.
Connolly was allegedly spotted by Sowden and other officers enter- ing the location on the morning of Feb. 15; he was then collared by Sowden as he attempted to exit the property while wheeling out cases of goods on a handtruck.
During questioning, police learned that Connolly had allegedly broken into the warehouse repeatedly in previous months and sold the stolen snacks to store owners in Brooklyn.
For his efforts, Lombardi and Community Council President John Perricone presented Sowden with a plaque donated by the Times Newsweekly.
Perricone led an informative session on the dangers of identity theft, providing attendees with a number of tips on how to avoid scammers on the Internet and elsewhere.
The council president spoke about “phishing,” a common scam online in which crooks use the names, logos and slogans of large businesses in order to create emails and webpages to obtain personal information from unsuspecting individuals. The emails could be requests for information to obtain a payment or a package to be delivered.
Perricone warned anyone who receives such an email not to send any information through links provided. He suggested that users examine the address of each link, noting that longer URLs are an indicator of a fraudulent web page. He also suggested that consumers directly contact the company to determine if the email is legitimate.
If, however, the message is from a company which has no business relationship to the recipient, Perricone stated, the recipient shouldn’t respond to the email at all.
P.O. Eddie Soto of the NYPD Community Affairs Unit added that consumers should also be careful to protect their identity and personal information in public venues. Credit cards, for example, should be used sparingly; if lost, Soto added, report it to the financial carrier immediately and have it cancelled.
“No one can protect your identity better than you,” added Bell. “You have to be careful where you swipe your cards. Make sure there isn’t another device attached to it,” adding that some crooks install card readers on ATMs or payment systems in order to obtain the account information of those using debit or credit cards.
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The next meeting of the 104th Precinct Community Council is scheduled to take place on Wednesday night, Apr. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at a location to be announced. For more information, call the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit at 1-718- 386-2431.