Throughout the city, crime has generally continued to decline, but in Forest Hills, the burglary hits just keep on coming and residents have become concerned.
“I just feel like there is a little less of a police presence in the area,” one resident said at a public safety meeting hosted by the 112th Precinct Monday. “I know there’s undercover cops but I feel like when I was younger or even in 2000, 2005, there was more of a presence and with all of these burglaries, I think we should be seeing more police cars around the area.”
Burglaries this year, have gone up 93 percent in the 112th, with 56 incidents compared to the 29 that occurred by this time last year.
“When you have a little area where it’s very nice, a middle-class area, this is where the criminals come to do their crime,” the 112th Precinct’s commanding officer, Capt. Thomas Conforti, said at Monday’s meeting. “That being said, if we’re an attraction for criminals, then we’re going to have burglaries.”
Despite the spike, the captain did report some good news. Two separate arrests were recently made in relation to the series of burglaries in the area. Further information on the arrests was not available as it is suspected that one of the individuals may be part of a group of burglars.
“When you look at the statistics, you need to know how safe your neighborhood actually is,” Conforti said. “If you compare this year to last year in our area, yes, it looks high, but if you look at burglaries throughout the whole borough, you will see how safe it is. Yes, we do have spikes, but the best way to gauge the spikes is by looking at the other districts as well.”
To combat the concerns of residents, the meeting, attended by about 50 people and held at PS 174 in Forest Hills, featured a presentation on the personal responsibilities everyone has to prevent burglaries.
“You have to make sure you are paying attention all of the time,” Officer Robert Semler of Community Affairs said. “We had a spike in automobile break-ins in December. Why? Because people leave their GPS in the car or change in the center console. We even had two incidents where the people left spare keys to the car inside of the vehicle.”
Semler offered other tips including removing large sums of cash from the home and keeping them in the bank, asking for ID when a Con Edison or Department for Environmental Protection agent shows up and making sure to check one’s home’s surroundings each morning before going to work.
After the presentation, Conforti answered questions and listened to the concerns of the attendees. Many of the questions involved protocol for lodging complaints with the city Department of Transportation and how to go about getting speed bumps installed on residential streets.
In the end, Conforti said, his team of officers and detectives do everything they can to make the district a better place to live but that it is important for the precinct and public to communicate regularly in order to do so.
“My job is to wake up every day and if something starts popping up somewhere, my job is simple: eradicate,” Conforti concluded. “I wish I could stop all crime but I can’t.”