Crime statistics in the 104th Precinct have been trending in the right direction with just over one month left in 2012.
Capt. John Travaglia, the precinct’s executive officer, offered the encouraging information Monday night at the meeting of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood.
“We’ve had a couple of bumps and bruises, but we’re looking to end the year with a negative trend,” Travaglia said, speaking in the auditorium at St. Aloysius Parish in Ridgewood.
For the 28-day period ending Nov. 18, felony assaults and rapes were down nearly 32 percent from the same period in 2011. Burglaries and grand larcenies also fell by more than 11 percent.
Robberies went up from 20 to 22, and auto thefts jumped from 14 to 20. However, overall major crimes for the period fell from 127 to 121, a drop of more than 4.7 percent.
In the year-to-date statistics, robberies and felony assaults are up through Nov. 18 by 9.5 and 4.5 percent, respectively, while rapes, burglaries, grand larceny and auto thefts are down, the latter by more than 17 percent.
Major crimes stand at 1,485 for the year, a drop of nearly 2 percent.
Travaglia and Officer Charles Sadler reminded people that auto burglaries and grand larcenies largely go hand-in-hand, and are at least somewhat preventable.
“We get a lot of reports of unlocked cars,” Travaglia said. “They take laptops, iPhones, loose change, anything they can sell for a quick buck. Make your car as unattractive as possible to thieves. Don’t leave anything of value showing when you leave your car. Make him move on to the next car.”
He and Sadler said most auto burglars are opportunists.
“Usually something attracts them to a certain car,” Sadler said.”
“If you leave an iPhone charger in view, a burglar is going to decide there may be an iPhone inside,” Travaglia said.
Sadler said experienced thieves know to look for the circle left on a windshield by some GPS devices that attach with suction cups.
“When you remove your GPS, use a baby wipe to remove that circle,” Sadler said. “I’ve had a guy tell me he looks for that circle. And when a thief sees that, he knows you didn’t take your Garmin with you. He knows you stuck it under the seat like you do everything else.”
They also said people can help police not only recover their stolen items but get them back to their rightful owners by etching identifying information.
“A lot of times we know something is stolen, but we don’t know who it was stolen from,” Sadler said.
Travaglia said many electronic devices have features that give an owner’s address or some other indication of ownership — but only if they are activated.
“That can help us a lot,” the captain said.
Taking questions from the floor, Travaglia — a seasoned veteran of the NYPD’s Highway Patrol unit — said the precinct has included bicyclists and owners of small, motorized bikes as part of an overall approach to traffic safety.
And he said while rules regarding the electrics can vary depending on myriad factors, there are some things that are very simple to enforce.
“No matter what else, they have to obey traffic laws,” he said. “They have to stop at red lights. They have to stop at stop signs. They can’t ride on the sidewalk. I tell officers to stick to those concrete things and they can avoid some of the gray areas.”