Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
From left to right: Captain Michael Gibbs, Captain John Mastronardi, Officer Cynthia Oliva, Officer Maria Santos and Precinct Community Council President Len Santoro after presenting Oliva and Santos with the Cop of the Month award.

An ongoing home burglary pattern in Maspeth was a topic of concern for residents who attended the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting on Feb. 20 at Martin Luther High School.

Captain John Mastronardi, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, explained that several residential burglaries have been reported in Maspeth and northern Middle Village over the past few months. The precinct has responded to the burglaries by placing a temporary headquarters vehicle in the area, which was first located at 80th Street and Eliot Avenue and has now been moved to 69th Street and Grand Avenue, Mastronardi said.

“We’re fighting it really hard, I’m not going to lie to you,” Mastronardi said. “It’s been tough for the past few months, but we’ve been able to push them over to where we want them, and hopefully push them up and away.”

Most of the incidents have taken place after 5 p.m. and into the early morning hours, Mastronardi said. There are at least two, but as many as five, male suspects involved, and the commander described them as professionals in every aspect of their operation.

They typically wear backpacks, hooded garments with their faces covered and gloves on their hands, the commander said. He also described them as highly athletic, able to climb and leap balconies, break into front doors, use ladders to get onto rooftops and squeeze through very small windows. Inside the backpacks are tools used in the break-ins, and the suspects are using radios and scanners to communicate with each other and listen to the police frequency, Mastronardi said.

“I think they’re part of a larger organization, I don’t think it’s just one of our regular guys looking to make a quick buck,” Mastronardi said. “I think it’s a professional group that’s working the area. I think they’re working from Queens all the way out to Long Island possibly.”

The captain urged residents to keep their windows and doors locked and call 911 if they see anybody suspicious in the neighborhood. With the mobile headquarters in the area, Mastronardi said the precinct is prepared to respond very quickly to these calls.

On a lighter note, the captain also presented two officers with the “Cop of the Month” award for their efforts to stop a group of suspects that were wanted in a pattern of delivery robberies.

Officers Cynthia Oliva and Maria Santos, who are partners in the conditions unit for the precinct, responded to a call on Nov. 23, 2017 at approximately 7 p.m. for a delivery man that got robbed in the street on 79th Place and 77th Avenue, Mastronardi said. The officers decided to assist in the investigation and search for the three individuals being described over the radio.

Not long after arriving in the vicinity of the incident, Oliva and Santos saw three individuals matching the description who were also holding Chinese food, the captain said. The officers approached the three individuals and apprehended them, and the suspects turned out to be connected to four other robberies.

Santos has been on the force for two-and-a-half years, Oliva has been an officer for seven years, and Mostronardi described them as two of his “most active” police officers in the command.

“It’s an honor to present to them the Cop of the Month award,” Mastronardi said. “It’s a very important award to me. I have to recognize excellent police work when I see it.”

During the meeting, the captain also noted that crime in the precinct is down 22.5 percent from February of last year, and crime is down 24 percent over the past 28 days. Mastronardi also said that the officer who was struck by a fire extinguisher in a dispute is recovering just fine.



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