Three illegal squatters in Woodside are responsible for a string of nighttime robberies, cops say

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Squatters living in a vacant Woodside home are responsible for five robberies across three different precincts, according to police.

The three men broke into and occupied a home in the vicinity of 61st Street and Roosevelt Avenue and walked along the Roosevelt Avenue corridor at night to steal phones and “prey on people in the middle of the night just walking home,” Captain John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, reported during Tuesday night’s 108th Precinct Community Council meeting in Sunnyside.

The Woodside home was completely abandoned and the men were living in “some deplorable conditions,” an NYPD official said. Police notified the Department of Buildings about this location and the agency has begun an investigation to make sure the building is up to code.

The owner of the building has also been told that he needs to board up his building to make sure no one else can enter, police said.

The men would conduct these robberies from about 12:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. and mostly stole phones, according to police. No weapons were involved during the robberies and the men are “looking at some serious jail time,” the NYPD said.

The arrest was a coordinated effort among the NYPD because the men also committed robberies within the confines of the 110th and 115th Precincts.

Travaglia added that this arrest, along with the arrest of a man who committed 20 robberies within a 10-day span across Brooklyn and Queens, have caused the early spike of robberies in the area this month to start dropping “significantly.”

In the last 28 days, the 108th Precinct has seen a 157 percent increase in robberies, from seven in the same time period last month to 18 robberies this month. Travaglia said the NYPD is hoping that these two arrests will be reflected in next month’s crime statistics with an overall decrease.

“When the one crew and the other individual I just mentioned were apprehended, pretty much the robberies had slowed down significantly,” Travaglia said. “So, we’re pretty much confident that in regards to that situation we have that under control.”

The captain also added that the precinct is down 45 percent in burglaries for the year to date thanks to coordination between field intelligence officers, the detective squad, crime prevention division and forensics data.

“The investigations going into these burglaries are tremendous,” Travaglia said. “We’re also seeing some positive issues over the past six months in which DNA has come back on certain burglaries, forensics have come back. But it’s also giving us leverage to make arrests for crimes that have happened in 2015.”

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