BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Police impersonation warnings dominated the discussion at Monday night’s Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) meeting at St. Adalbert’s Church in Elmhurst.
Representatives of the 104th, 108th and 110th precincts warned residents about a dangerous uptick in home invasions and robberies committed by perpetrators impersonating police officers. Deputy Inspector Christopher Manson, commander of the 110th Precinct, cautioned COMET members against falling victim to this scheme.
According to Manson, three such robberies occurred recently within the confines of the 110th Precinct. In one case, two males with dark complexions riding in a black van followed a man walking home between the hours of 1:30 and 4:30 a.m. One of the suspects, pretending to be a plain-clothes police officer, approached the victim, frisked him, stole his wallet and sped away in the van. The other two incidents were similar in nature.
Manson believes the victims were targeted because they were walking alone late at night. He urged residents to request a valid NYPD ID card from anyone attempting to stop them on the street claiming to be an officer.
Maspeth and Elmhurst have also seen an increase in home invasions and burglaries committed by police impersonators. However, unlike the robberies, the recent home invasions appear to deliberately target houses with reputations for illegal activities and narcotics.
On March 24th, a home invasion robbery involving police impersonation took place on Jay Avenue in Maspeth. According to reports, two black males wearing fake police uniforms forced their way into the front door of the home. Once inside, they ransacked a basement apartment and then fled on foot.
“This is not a random act,” said Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct. “These homes were targeted.”
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, with detectives from the Police Impersonation Investigation Unit examining video footage from the vicinity of the crime.
Manson reported similar incidents in the 110th Precinct. Manson believes the perpetrators in these incidents are attempting to shake down reputed drug houses for narcotics and cash.
“They go where they know the money is,” he said.
Capt. Lavonda Wise, the new executive officer of the 108th Precinct, introduced herself to COMET members. She reported two incidents of home burglaries in the 108th Precinct in the past month. In both cases, perpetrators broke the locks on the front doors of the homes to gain entry. According to Wise, an investigation into these incidents is ongoing.