Whitestone burglaries, Flushing phone scams among top crime trends at local precinct

Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

At a recent community meeting, Flushing-based officers shared information about a variety of local crime trends and prevention tips.

Inspector Judith Harrison warned attendees at the 109th Precinct Community Council meeting on Feb. 14 about a rise in burglaries observed within the command in recent weeks, particularly concentrated in the Whitestone area. According to crime statistics, burglaries have increased by 40 percent in the last 28 days, year-over-year.

The commanding officer encouraged residents to always secure their doors, windows and locks. Alarm systems should also always be activated.

“If you have alarm systems and you have an alarm system that can angle out into the street, that would be helpful for us to determine their method of arrival,” Harrison said. “For example: did they pull up in a vehicle or did they walk up to the premises?”

Harrison also warned residents not to leave their cars running unattended. This pattern has contributed to a rise in reported car thefts in the area.

“People are leaving their keys in their vehicles,” Harrison said. “The weather is going to warm up, but until it does, people who want to warm up their vehicle … I’m telling you right now, it’s a crime of opportunity and there are people out there who are opportunists and are taking advantage of what you’re doing.”

She also warned workers not to leave their vehicles running unattended while making a delivery — another observed trend.

“All it takes is a quick minute, a quick second,” she noted.

Police Officer Mark Burger also took to the podium to speak about a spate of scam phone calls within the command.

In recent weeks, residents mainly in the Flushing area have reported receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be from the Chinese Embassy. The caller tells the resident that their name has been linked to certain crimes and instructs him or her to wire a sum of money to a bank in Hong Kong in order to terminate the investigation. In some cases, “Chinese Embassy” is even programmed to show up on the recipient’s caller ID, the officer noted.

Burger urged locals who receive the call to hang up the phone immediately. Residents unsure of the validity of the call should contact the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit at 718-321-2343 or the Office of the Chinese General Consulate at 212-244-9392.

Attendees with family, friends or neighbors who speak any Chinese-language varieties were encouraged to spread the word.

“Unfortunately, some people get nervous,” Harrison added. “Slow the pace of the conversation. Always stop and verify before you comply.”

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