Thursday, February 25, 2010

Deception Burglaries and Frustration Over 311 System Plague 104th Precinct

By Conor Greene

This month’s COP 104 meeting in Maspeth Town Hall focused on two issues impacting residents throughout the precinct: deception burglaries targeting seniors and frustration over lack of follow up by officers on complaints registered to the city’s 311 system.

Recent Crime Stats

Major crime is up just more than seven percent through the first six weeks of 2010 compared with the same time period last year. There have been no homicides and one rape, 27 robberies – up one from last year – and 58 burglaries – down one from last year. Auto theft is down one from this time last year, with 36 so far in 2010.

However, there have been sharp increases in felony assaults, with 24 compared with 18 last year, and grand larceny, with 56 this year, up from 47 in 2009, according to Deputy Inspector Keith Green, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct.

In all, there have been 202 total major crimes, up from 188 at this point last year. The good news, said Green, is that arrests are also on the rise, up 15 percent this year for all crimes and nearly 13 percent for major crimes. Over the past two years, arrests are up 24 percent, according to Green.

“So far, we’ve kept the burglaries at the same level as last year, which is very big for us,” said Green. “It has traditionally been a big problem in the 104 and the rest of Queens.”

Police Warn of Deception Crimes

Police are warning residents, especially the elderly, to be aware of individuals posing as utility workers to gain entry into homes. There have been two recent so-called deception burglaries within the 104th Precinct in the past two weeks, according to Green.

The recent incidents have occurred in Glendale and Ridgewood, and are believed to possibility be part of a larger pattern happening throughout the borough and city, said Green. The thieves generally approach the elderly, especially those living alone, and say they need to enter the house to check on pipes or electrical work.

“They convince you they need to access the house to check on something. They are very convincing,” said Green. Once inside, one perpetrator will distract the homeowner while the other slips away and looks for items to steal. In one case, the victim was approached outside her home and allowed them inside before realizing they weren’t legitimate. While she was able to get them out quickly, they managed to steal a check off her table.

There were no injuries reported in either recent incident, according to Green, who said the perps generally don’t get physical and look for jewelry, cash and other small valuables they can quickly grab. “There are professionals who travel around and do this,” the commanding officer said. “Don’t ever let anyone in your house you didn’t call. There is just no reason to,” he said, adding that residents who are approached should call 911.

The suspects in the most recent incident, which took place at a two-family house on Stanhope Street, were described as two white men ages 35 to 45. In the Glendale incident two weeks ago, the victim didn’t get a good look at the suspects. However, a mailman saw the incident and blocked the street with his mail truck. The suspects were forced to back down the one-way street in a silver truck and fled the scene, according to Green.

Tough Times in Upper Glendale

Civic leader Kathy Masi reported that it has been a “rough time in upper Glendale” with a recent rash of incidents in the vicinity of Doran Avenue. In recent weeks, there was an incident with a man flashing a pellet gun after an incident at a nearby bar, along with several attempted and suc- cessful home burglaries.

“We’re convinced that it’s coming right from the block,” she said of possible perpetrators. “We’ve had quite a bit in upper Glendale, and I don’t know what we can do. It hasn’t been a good two months here.”

The burglary incidents have had a “terrible effect on seniors,” added Masi, adding that one woman fell down her stairs and was badly injured while checking to make sure her basement door was locked. “It’s really frightening,” said Masi. “You’re not even seeing what’s going on that doesn’t factor into the [precinct’s crime] numbers.”

No Response to 311 Complaints

A family from Admiral Avenue in Middle Village aired frustrations over a lack of response to complaints they have logged with the city’s 311 phone number.

The family has been dealing with loud music ever since new tenants moved into the home adjacent to theirs. This has led the family to file numerous complaints with 311, only to watch as the complaint is classified online as being resolved, even though the music continues and no officers ever showed up to investigate, according to the family.

“We’ve called 311 and nothing ever happens,” one member said, adding that they are sure no officers responded because they sit outside their house for several hours waiting. “It says the police department responded and took action, but the music doesn’t go off.”

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said he has regularly heard similar complaints from other residents. “We’re hearing this over and over again. Something is wrong with 311 when it comes to dealing with the precinct,” he said. “This is not isolated – it’s happening all over. We’ve heard this for several years now. This is a legitimate complaint. We’ve got to find out what’s going on with 311.”

Green said he would look into these incidents and check which officers were assigned to respond to the specific calls to see what went wrong.

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