At last week’s meeting of the 104th Precinct Community Council, Capt. Christopher Manson, the commanding officer, related how a heroin addiction drove the suspect who allegedly had been robbing people at knifepoint recently.
Manson also reported that crime in the precinct, as of March 18, has gone up 1.7 percent compared to last year.
“I believe we’re going to have a good year like we did last year, we’re going to see reduction in crime again,” Manson said during the meeting, held at Christ the King High School.
For the year to date figures compared to last year he revealed the following:
• Murder is 0 compared to 1.
• Rapes are 4 compared to 5, and he noted that all were known associates (husbands, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriend etc.).
• Robberies are even at 44.
• Felony assaults are down 29 percent.
• Burglaries are down 9 percent.
• Grand larcenies are up 9.4 percent.
• Their biggest problem has been grand larceny automobile cases. They are up this year at 37 compared to last year’s 22.
The precinct had a huge decrease in GLA last year, so, in a way, Manson commented, “We are kind of fighting our own success after they were down dramatically in this particular crime a year ago.”
One problem in the Ridgewood area recently had been a series of knife-point robberies. The male suspect would approach women between the ages of 20 and 60 with a “Rambo-type” knife and demand their wallet, cell phone, whatever they had.
The spree lasted about a week, with a reported nine incidents. When the alleged perpetrator was found and arrested after trying to sell a stolen cell phone to a pawnshop, he had heroin on him, the NYPD said. He had no serious criminal record prior to the recent robberies. He admitted to the robberies and told the police why it all started, Manson said.
He had heroin for the first time at a party a few months ago and soon after become addicted. He went on to spend all of his money and continue to make bad decisions and then his whole life went down the drain very quickly.
With warmer weather, the police know that crime activity will be on the rise, and residents voiced their concerns about various issues.
Police Officer Brenda Hyatt, the precinct’s crime prevention officer, announced some programs that they offer as ways that residents can help in the prevention of crime.
An idea that stood out is putting stickers on a car to give the police the right to pull over the driver to make sure it’s not stolen, particularly at night.
Hyatt also said people can prevent crime by registering their electronic devices or scheduling house security checks. Every program is free and the police encourage people to use them.
One issue that people had concerns graffiti. Paul Kerzner, with the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association, asked for the precinct to press the district attorney to seek restitution in every single case.
Officer Justin Dambinskas who has spent much of his time helping to coordinate anti-graffiti efforts in the precinct, responded, “We have had numerous accounts where they have asked for restitution and it has been successful, but ultimately it is up to the discretion of the judge.”
Another issue that was brought up was traffic flow. This winter has not helped the busy streets of Queens much and driving a car down Metropolitan Avenue or Fresh Pond Road is very much at your own risk during rush hour.
One resident who lives off of Fresh Pond said of the situation, “My quality of life is ruined between 4 and 7.”
“I wish people would just be courteous and use common sense,” said another resident.
“You ain’t gonna find a courteous New Yorker at 8 in the morning,” Manson laughed.
“We sit in the same traffic you guys do, and if we’re sitting on Fresh Pond and a call comes in even just fifteen blocks up, its an absolute nightmare,” he added.
Manson said that he would put in a request to the Department of Transportation for a light sequence survey, but decisions on subjects such as timing of lights or adding a turn signal at particular intersections are ultimately beyond his control.
Jo Ann Berger, the PTA President at IS 73 in Maspeth, had her own requests concerning traffic. Anyone who has driven past a school in the morning sees the problem of parents double-parking in front and then sometimes making U-turns there too.
“I am one of those parents asking you to ticket because my children and other people’s children are walking back and forth and it’s a danger to them,” Berger said.
Aside from the traffic jam that creates, it also blocks the vision of other drivers, as well as kids trying to cross the street to get to school.
Manson plans on ticketing those parents who carelessly put other children in danger. He says that he only has so many people to rotate to all the schools they cover, but parents can put in requests for a “blitz,” when police would come for a period of time and ticket those parents hard as soon as they can.
The next meeting will be April 29, again at Christ the King.