Thursday, July 29, 2010

Auto Theft, Domestic Violence on the Rise in 104th Precinct

By Tamara Best

Crime is on the rise in the 104th Precinct, with the area ranked number one in the city for auto thefts. In addition, there has been a major spike in felony assaults, which are up 61 percent for the year.

Lt. James Lombardi and Detective Kevin Weber spoke to residents and members of several local civic groups at last Wednesday’s meeting, which was hosted by Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) in Maspeth Town Hall.

The Toyota Forerunner and Highlander, Dodge Caravan and Honda Pilot are among popular vehicle targets for thieves, according to police. Lombardi said the NYPD’s auto larceny unit is being sent to the area at nights in an effort to help curb auto thefts.

“We were doing very well and then we got hit a few weeks ago and it hasn’t stopped,” he said, adding that the crime is not clustered in a particular area but spread throughout the precinct.

Lombardi said the rise in assaults can be attributed to an increase in domestic violence in the area.

Area civic leaders and residents expressed frustration over repeat offenders being released let out of prison, only to commit more petty crimes.

“It’s a revolving door, the district attorney has got to protect us,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “We need to write a few letters, make a few phone calls.”

Former City Councilman and current State Senate candidate Anthony Como told the audience that while he understood their frustration with the District Attorney’s office, punishment and deterring criminals is not solely at the discretion of the DA.

“Part of the problem is judges not setting bail high enough,” he said, which allows individuals who commit petty crimes to return to the streets quickly.

Roe Daraio, president of COMET, encouraged the audience to get involved with court watch programs and protest if needed to make their voices heard by the courts.

Lombardi did offer residents some positive news. The precinct is up more than 200 percent in graffiti arrests for the year, an issue that last long plagued neighborhoods within the confines of the 104.

Still, with the uptick in crime, Lombardi encouraged residents to remain alert.

“If something doesn’t look right— call.”

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