BY ANGELA MATUA
Crime dropped across the 104th Precinct last month, with the exception of identity theft, which has been a continuous problem, according to the precinct’s commander.
Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, told guests at the 104th Precinct Community Council Meeting in Maspeth Tuesday night that crime dropped by 8 percent, with 60 crimes in the past 28 days.
Though the number of robberies and burglaries has stayed even for the year, there has been a recent uptick in wallets stolen from vehicles. Wachter urged residents to remove any personal items from their cars when they leave.
P.O. Rob Selmer of the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit warned about the dangers of identity theft and encouraged people to shred all of their mail and not to give money to people who claim to be from the IRS or any government organization. He also urged those going away for vacation to have a friend or neighbor pick up their mail.
“If you’re going away for the summer, let them pick up your mail,” Selmer said. “Mail is a big indicator that you are not home.”
Wachter said the precinct has removed 15 derelict cars from an area in Maspeth and an unlicensed tow truck from Grand Avenue after several residents called the precinct to complain. Only towing companies in the Directed Accident Towing Program are allowed to tow trucks, he said.
“This is a tow truck that basically operates illegally to skate around New York towing cars when they’re not supposed to,” Wachter said. “If you get into a car accident there’s one tow truck that’s supposed to come, not just Joe Schmoe’s towing service.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, residents warned Wachter about a suspicious massage parlor in Maspeth, graffiti on the Woodhaven Boulevard underpass, speeding problems near the Metro Mall in Middle Village and abandoned houses in Maspeth and Glendale.
“We need the community involvement,” Wachter said. “We rely on information you give us to solve these crimes.”
Wachter also presented police officers Nicholas Mancuso and Jonathan Hili with Cop of the Month honors for arresting four people in a home invasion on Gates Avenue in Ridgewood.
“We probably prevented a shooting,” Wachter said. “If we didn’t take these three guns off the street, what could’ve happened? We’ll never know the answer to that question but it’s something to ponder.”
Wachter and newly-elected Precinct Council President Len Santoro, who was elected president in place of Mario Matos, presented the officers with plaques donated by the Ridgewood Times.
Bob Monahan, executive director of the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, also spoke about programs offered by the council, including a young adult internship program for people ages 18 to 24 who receive job training and an internship with companies throughout New York City.
The organization also has a youth employment program for people ages 14 to 24 who work at the youth council during the summer. Monahan encouraged people at the meeting to tell young people in the community about these programs.