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Cops fight burglaries in Howard Beach

By Sarina Trangle

There is a new police command center on the block, and Howard Beach residents have welcomed it with open arms.

Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach Linden Civic, said more than 200 people gathered at the Howard Beach and Lindenwood neighborhood association’s March 25 meeting to air concerns about a rash of burglaries before Deputy Chief David Barrere, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens South.

The next day, the Police Department opened a mobile command center near PS 207, on 160th Avenue between 88th and 89th streets, and dispatched more than 60 officers to the area.

Barrere and Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, who commands the 106th Precinct, also sat down with Howard Beach residents and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) March 27 to discuss the strategy.

“First and foremost, the burglaries have ceased. Secondly, and also very important, the residents feel safe,” Ariola said, noting there were officers on the corners of several avenues and marked cars roaming Howard Beach. “The residents, who were being held hostage at one point, feel very safe and they’re very appreciative.”

The 106th Precinct, which patrols South Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Howard Beach, circulated fliers warning of a pattern detected in five burglaries committed between March 22 and 26.

The flier said burglars broke in through side doors or windows, and in one case the front door, often getting into safes and leaving with untraceable property such as jewelry, electronics and cash.

The push-ins tended to happen during narrow windows, suggesting that the perpetrators noticed families leaving their homes or had become familiar with their habits, police said.

Although two men invaded a home near 78th Street and 160th Avenue and tied up a woman March 12, police stressed that she was not harmed and that the incident was unrelated to the burglaries.

“The community’s unity and passion displayed were very impressive and the concerns voiced at the meeting were heard,” the flier said. “As a result, a concentration of officers have been assigned to address these crimes: 15 plainclothes officers, more than 30 uniformed officers, eight community affairs officers, 10 auxiliary officers and a large command post vehicle.”

Ariola said police have agreed to maintain their presence in the area until it is no longer necessary.

“With these additional resources, it is only a matter of time before the person(s) responsible for the recent spike in crime is arrested and brought to justice,” Ulrich said in a statement. “Howard Beach is a safe community and I will do everything I can to help the NYPD keep it that way.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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