By Gina Martinez
A crowd of people wearing pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month packed the 109th Precinct’s monthly community council meeting last week. The meeting focused on crime and transportation issues.
Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison took the podium at the Oct. 12 meeting and pointed out a specific pattern of grand larcenies happening in downtown Flushing. She said that groups of two or three people would work together to rob unsuspecting victims.
“What they would do is pour a substance on you and one person would bring it to your attention,” she said. “Then you start looking down, patting yourself and while you are so busy trying to get the substance off of you, you don’t realize there’s someone behind you going into your bag.”
According to Harrison, there were three confirmed cases of this scheme in the 109th Precinct, one confirmed case in the 111th Precinct and one in the 108th Precinct. Harrison said that while going through the complaint reports, she found some victims who didn’t realize they had been duped. When asked if they were bumped into, they would say no, not having noticed what was happening to them. Harrison then showed them footage of robbers distracting a woman while a second went through her back pack.
When Harrison sent out her anti-crime team in plainclothes to blend in with the crowd, she said it was “like finding a needle in a haystack,” but they did manage to make an arrest.
Crime stats were also discussed. Year-to-date robbery is up 18.2 percent to 162 from 137 cases for the same period in 2015. Grand larcenies were also up 2.6 percent from 691 cases in 2015 to 709 this year. Burglaries inched up only 0.4 percent, with 242 cases so far this year, compared to 241 cases for same period in 2015.
The 109th Precinct polices areas of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace and part of Auburndale.
DOT Transportation Planner Richard Gippetti answered questions at the meeting about DOT changes in the area, specifically the reconstruction of Main Street in Flushing. He told attendees that construction on the sidewalk widening began Oct. 17 and is set to end in July 2017.
The project will reconstruct and resurface the roadbed; replace manholes, fire hydrants and sewers; and widen the sidewalk from 38th Avenue to 41st Avenue. The sidewalk will be widened by as much as eight feet to create more space on an incredibly crowded pedestrian thoroughfare. This will be the first reconstruction of Main Street in more than 20 years. As a result of the project, bus stops will be temporarily relocated, but officials have promised to warn commuters ahead of time through signs, as well as posts on social media and the MTA website in multiple languages to accommodate the large immigrant community in Flushing.
Gippetti then took questions and complaints from residents. Residents asked for speed bumps, stoplights and signs to be installed in the area and Gippetti took down their complaints and promised to review them.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart