Councilwoman Sandra Ung joined police officers from the NYPD’s 109th Precinct in Flushing on Monday, Dec. 12, to share tips on how residents can protect themselves from becoming the victim of a crime this holiday season.
Ung was joined by Police Officer Ares Huang of the Community Affairs Unit and Police Officer Mark Burger of the Crime Prevention Unit at the 109th Precinct.
“Christmas, New Year’s and Lunar New Year are all coming up, so I thought it was important to discuss some ways to avoid becoming a victim of crime this holiday season,” Ung said. “Thieves know that people are carrying more cash and valuable belongings this time of year, and take advantage of the busy streets to pick pockets and bags.”
Burger said it’s the opportunity that a criminal sees, but residents can “control that opportunity and lower the probability of a thief being successful at carrying out that crime.” Burger suggested keeping phones and cash in the front pocket of your pants and not in your back pocket or bag. He said thieves use the crowded streets to their advantage.
“They will bump into you, then reach into your bag or backpack and steal your wallet,” Burger said, adding that people should be extra vigilant around ATMs. “Criminals watch for people withdrawing large sums of cash and then prey on them. You should also limit the amount of cash you carry. If you can’t prevent a crime, you can at least mitigate your losses.”
According to Burger, elderly residents are particularly vulnerable, and suggested that if they need to do banking that requires them to carry large sums of cash to go with a friend who can help them stay aware of their surroundings.
Burger said a common street scam in Flushing involves a person distracting you by putting a cheap piece of jewelry around your neck in a fake attempt to get you to purchase it, only to slip off your more expensive piece of jewelry in the process.
He also said that while it is a problem year-round, package thefts are particularly problematic as people get more items shipped to their homes. Burger said his unit is available to do a home security assessment if requested.
“I would rather do the assessment before a house is robbed than after it is robbed,” Burger said. “I suggest that if you are getting something valuable delivered to your home that you use a service like the Amazon lockers if you can’t be there when it is delivered.”