104th Precinct commanding officer addresses escalating moped incidents, quality-of-life concerns during Maspeth meeting

104th Precinct Community Council meeting
Deputy Chief Christine Bastedenbeck, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, joined the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Photo by Anthony Medina

The NYPD 104th Precinct‘s Community Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24, heard from Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, Council President Jon Kablack and special guest Assistant Chief Christine Bastedenbeck, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North.

During the monthly council meeting at the Martin Luther School, located at 60-02 Maspeth Ave. in Maspeth, crucial topics discussed included updates on recent crime patterns, issues with moped riders, an increase in robberies and traffic safety concerns near schools.

At the top of the meeting, the Cop of the Month award was presented to Police Officer Mohamedzaid Palbalkar for his outstanding performance over the summer in apprehending a mugger who stole a phone from a victim while wielding a bat. The officer was able to track the iPhone with the victim and arrested the involved perpetrators. He holds two Cop of the Month awards this year for his service.

The Cop of the Month award was presented to Police Officer Mohamedzaid Palbalkar (c.), joined by Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman (l.) and 104th Precinct Community Council President Jon Kablack (r.). Photo by Anthony Medina

Upcoming community-driven events for the area were also discussed for the end of October and November.

The 104th Precinct announced the return of the 2nd annual Halloween Haunted House event for Sunday, Oct. 29. This year’s Carn-Evil event will have more than just the haunted house portion, although it is the main attraction, meeting attendees were told.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the 104th Precinct will host an Asian crime prevention town hall meeting with the communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst at 7 p.m. Kablack will also be honored with a humanitarian award at this year’s Middle Village Veterans Day Parade, on Sunday, Nov. 12.

As Deputy Inspector Coleman began to give an update on the state of the precinct, he informed attendees of the suspected murder-suicide in Glendale over the weekend. He encouraged residents to reach out to police to report possible and ongoing domestic violence incidents to the precinct.

“We take domestic violence, like anything extremely serious, even if it’s a minor type of offense, because we know how it can be a cycle where someone has repeatedly abused or repeatedly the victim of a crime, because of their significant other or whatever the situation is,” Coleman said.

According to Coleman, the precinct will also have an influx of assigned traffic agents at the 104th Precinct through a written proposal, which was recently approved.

“We’re hoping that is going to help our resources and our response time as you handle these various jobs,” Coleman said.

The new initiative was said to be motivated by the quantity of 311 complaints taken from the precinct. Coleman said that last year, the precinct took over 43,000 jobs regarding 311 complaints, 70% of which were parking-related issues.

Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman and Assistant Chief of Patrol for Queens North Christine Bastedenbeck. Photo by Anthony Medina

Regarding crime stats over a 28-day period, for the first time in a long while, grand larceny auto crimes are down in the 104th Precinct.

The 104th Precinct also experienced a decrease in felony assaults over the 28-day period. Grand larceny incidents increased by three more than last year (59 vs. 56) and robberies also experienced an increase of five more cases this year compared to last (23 vs. 18).

What’s ramping up the number of robberies in the area are the mopeds and motorbikes, according to Coleman.

Last month, a string of robbery incidents involving bandits on mopeds occurred within the confines of the 104th Precinct. On Thursday, Sept. 14, police responded to the robbery of a 41-year-old woman by two crooks riding a black moped.

From Friday, Sept. 29, to early morning on Sunday, Oct. 1, two unknown perpetrators were reported to police robbing and targeting six different victims while riding around in a red moped.

“You always want to be aware of your surroundings and what is going on,” said Coleman, “… like if you’re if you have headphones on and you’re just listening to music and oblivious to everything, that’s dangerous for many reasons.”

The issues with criminals using mopeds also extend to the motorcyclists themselves.

According to police, at approximately 9:50 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1, a victim left his moped parked in front of 16-16 Summerfield Avenue — an address that was once a proposed homeless shelter site — when he later discovered it was stolen.

“If you have a motorbike or you have a motorcycle, you really need to store that somewhere, somewhere that’s enclosed,” said Coleman.

The precinct did receive a grant for funds to conduct airbag giveaway  in an effort to use the technology to better track stolen goods.

Another point made at the meeting was the use of Facebook Marketplace by criminals. Coleman said there were a couple of incidents where stolen cars have shown up on the marketplace.

Assistant Chief Bastedenbeck mirrored the warnings shared by Coleman and emphasized that police intervention doesn’t need to start after an incident happens.

“It’s not always about just being the victim of a crime,” Bastedenbeck said.

Residents and meeting attendees spoke to officers regarding several quality-of-life and safety concerns, including double- and triple-parking near schools.

In consideration of the death of a school crossing guard in Woodhaven/Ozone Park this month, and when a vehicle struck another in Maspeth last month, concern over the safety of everyone involved was emphasized.

One resident who is a parent said it would be unfair to punish parents picking up their children in the area since there’s minimum parking. The crowd did agree that something needed to be done regarding the matter.

Other topics for the night involved commercial vehicles parking in excess in residential neighborhoods and more patrols throughout the night.

Another parting word of advice from Coleman was for store owners not to keep cash in their registers when closing. After burglaries involving storefronts, the deputy inspector said it prevents more damage to the property.

The next 104th Precinct Community Council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Church, located at 83-17 78th Ave. in Glendale.