BY BROOKE SMITH
The new year may have just started, but the 106th Precinct is facing the challenge of combating a rise in property crimes.
During the 106th Precinct Community Council’s meeting Wednesday night in Ozone Park, Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, the precinct’s commander, said the force saw a 67 percent increase in property crimes since the start of 2016. The rise, he noted, is largely due to a tool burglary pattern in the South Ozone Park area. The precinct has reported 17 such instances from last November through Jan. 8.
In these capers, he explained, individuals are stealing specific tools from construction sites, residential garages and commercial vans, then marketing them to existing construction sites and body shops for low prices.
The 106th Precinct responded to this burglary pattern by establishing a Midnight Crime Team, a group of officers flooding the area of 114th Street and Linden Boulevard looking out for any suspicious activity. The team’s presence has resulted in seven residential burglary arrests this year and the cessation of the tool burglaries as of Jan. 8.
Police encouraged those who own tools to have the serial numbers registered at the precinct through the NYPD’s Operation ID program. Stolen property found in possession of a thief that’s registered through Operation ID can be more quickly returned to the rightful owner. The NYPD offers this service free of charge.
Schiff emphasized education as the best way for residents to protect themselves and their property.
“Go to every meeting, check our Facebook page, check your emails,” Schiff said. “If you’re going to let strangers in your home, you have to watch them. Install cameras or get a house sitter if you have to.”
Schiff urges residents to identify all the people who come into your home and designate areas that they are allowed to enter, especially if workers are coming into the home.
Despite the rise in property crimes, he noted a 45 percent decrease in con artist crimes including a 29 percent decrease in pickpockets and 80 percent decrease in extortion. Transit crimes are also down by 14 percent.
The council applauded the support and cooperation of the community and organization leaders who filled the room to capacity and who play a vital role in reporting crime.
“We’ve had a full house every month for as long as I can remember,” Council President Frank Dardani said. “We used to get 15 to 20 complaints. It’s remarkable how complaints are down, but we still get a full house because people are still interested in what goes on in their community.”