A Kew Gardens Hills senior is urging everyone in the neighborhood to stay vigilant after two young men dressed in suits — who claimed they wanted to speak to her about a car sale — tried to enter her home and refused to leave.
Carmen Diaz, a disabled 67-year-old senior who lives alone with her two dogs in Hyde Park Gardens, said the incident has left her shaken up, no longer feeling safe in the neighborhood that she’s called home for the past 45 years.
On Friday, March 15, at approximately 7:30 p.m. Diaz said the two young black men — one dressed in a suit and the other in casual wear — appeared in front of the two-family residence, and rang her doorbell asking to come in to speak about a car she purchased.
“I stopped driving years ago. I don’t have a car. I knew something was off,” said Diaz. “I went to the window to see who it was, and they said, ‘Ms. Diaz, we need to come upstairs to talk to you about the car that you sold us’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about? I didn’t sell anyone a car. I don’t have a car.”’
After Diaz told the men to leave and closed her window, she observed them walking over to her neighbor’s house. She immediately called the 107th Precinct to report the situation.
“I told them what happened and they said they’re going to send a car right away … 10 to 15 minutes passed and the precinct is only five minutes away … my 79-year-old neighbor [who is mentally challenged and scared] calls me screaming and crying saying somebody is trying to get inside his house,” Diaz said. “I called the precinct again and they said, ‘Oh, you know, we’re very busy because of what happened in New Zealand … we’re protecting the mosques and synagogues in the area.’”
According to Diaz, she became livid at the police officers, claiming they didn’t take the incident seriously. Two minutes her phone call, she said, two police officers showed up at her door.
“The woman cop said, ‘In the future, call us and tell us it’s an emergency,’” said Diaz. “I said I did say it was an emergency situation, and seniors live here and most of us are alone … there are two men trying to get into our homes, it isn’t an emergency? Then she told me to calm down or they’ll take me to the precinct.”
The duo also targeted Diaz’s 46-year-old neighbor downstairs, who she said was also home alone when they rang her doorbell.
After police officers patrolled the area and a building security guard checked the premises, Diaz was told to not walk her dogs early in the morning or late at night.
“People need to be aware and there are a lot of different garden apartments in this area,” said Diaz. “There’s tons of seniors here. These guys were clean-cut, very personable that you wouldn’t think twice of not opening the door. I hate to think of what could’ve occurred. I don’t know how many bells they rang, but this was scary and the fact that I wasn’t taken seriously by the police is upsetting.”
According to Diaz, the neighborhood has changed since she moved from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to Kew Garden Hills. She no longer comes out at 6 a.m. after she caught several guys trying to steal tires and her neighbors’ cars.
QNS contacted the NYPD and they were unable to verify a filed report of the incident.
However, Theresa McKeon, onsite manager of Hyde Park Gardens, said the area is a “very safe neighborhood with low to no crime,” in a written statement to QNS.
Following Diaz’s claim of her neighbor moving out due to the incident, McKeon confirmed that the woman didn’t feel threatened or unsafe in her conversation with the men.
“It was rather a contract of sale back in December. That neighbor is not leaving due to an unsafe neighborhood, but to move onto bigger and better as they purchased a home,” said McKeon. “The family still resides at Hyde Park today.”
In regards to Diaz’s claim of alleged stolen cars or tires that she caught several times, McKeon said “there have been no occurrences to that effect nor had Diaz ever contacted our office pertaining to those occurrences.”
McKeon added, “Hyde Park is a great neighborhood in which to live. I have been the onsite manager here since 1996,” said McKeon. “The most common occurrence that happens onsite are quality-of-life, not theft, and certainly not people preying on our seniors. The community looks after their neighbors here as well does the staff.”