By Conor Greene
A Brooklyn man has been charged in a string of residential break-ins around Forest Hills and Rego Park that had left many neighborhood residents nervous, especially those living in ground floor apartments.
Jamal Williams, 25, of East New York was arrested Friday night by detectives from the 112th Precinct and arraigned the following morning on charges he broke into four apartment buildings in the neighborhood between Queens Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway, announced authorities.
Williams, of 584 Logan Street, was ordered held on $175,000 bail by Queens Criminal Court Judge Barry Kron. He is due back in court on July 3 and faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. He is being held on four separate complaints charging him with multiple counts of burglary, larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
“The defendant is accused of being a one man crime wave and brazenly climbing through first floor apartment windows sometimes even when the homeowners were sleeping,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “One inside the apartments, he would allegedly steal whatever he could fine and then flee.” Williams’ “ultimate undoing,” according to Brown, “was when he was caught by surveillance cameras at one apartment house and at an ATM machine [at the Washington Mutual Bank] where he was trying to use a debit card” stolen in one of the burglaries.
The criminal complaint accuses him of climbing through a first floor apartment window at 67-12 Yellowstone Boulevard just after midnight on May 25 and stealing a flat-screen television, a Bulova watch and North Face jacket. Two days later, he allegedly entered a first floor apartment at 65-10 108th Street while its occupant was sleeping and made off with a purse containing credit and debit cards and five dollars.
A third criminal complaint charges Williams with entering the first-floor apartment window at 66-40 108th Street on June 2 and stealing a Toshiba laptop computer. On the evening of June 18, he allegedly climbed through the ground floor apartment at 102-30 67th Avenue and fleeing with a Rolex watch, diamond engagement ring, an I-Pod, cellular phone, a gold necklace and several credit and debit cards.
All four buildings are within several blocks of each other, in a neighborhood characterized by mid-level apartment buildings near Yellowstone Boulevard. The alleged burglar was taken into custody after the doorman at the first building targeted realized he saw Williams in the lobby earlier that day, said Brown. That suspicion was confirmed by a review of the building’s surveillance footage, and photographs taken at a Washington Mutual Bank ATM several blocks from the second burglary shows Williams attempting to use a bank debit card taken from that break in, according to the charges.
At the time of his arrest, Williams allegedly admitted that he had entered the apartments thorough the windows and told detectives he sold the television taken from the first burglary to a Jamaica pawnshop for $150 and the laptop for $200. He also admitted to selling the Rolex watch taken in the fourth burglary to an individual in Brooklyn. Brown noted that other break-ins in the area are being investigated to see if there are any links to the ones already connected to Williams. Police originally suspected two men were working together, but now have said Williams acted alone. Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested
The arrest of Williams was not the 112th Precinct’s only high-profile collar in the past few weeks. At last Wednesday’s meeting of the precinct’s Community Council, Captain Christopher Tamola announced that his daytime Anti-Crime Unit arrested a suspect in connection with the robbery of a local Commerce Bank. The suspect entered the bank at about and passed a note to a teller demanding money, according to the captain. An employee was able to hit the alarm, and a witness got a description of the perpetrator and his getaway vehicle.
As officers canvassed the area, they learned that the car was registered to a neighborhood in south Queens. They arrested the suspect after tracking him down to the address listed for the vehicle, said Tamola. “It was great work by the sergeant and his troops,” said Captain Tamola, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct. “The Commerce is a very wide open bank, and we see this happening more and more often.” He added that the suspect still had an ink stain still on him when officers tracked him down from a dye pack that exploded in the bag of money. “That made it pretty easy to catch him,” said Tamola, who noted that branch has been held up three times in the past three months.