There has been an uptick in robberies in the 104th Precinct and officers are doing their best to keep the streets of their community safe.
Most recently, a crew of bank robbers used a stolen Caterpillar backhoe to lift an ATM from a Chase bank in Maspeth last Friday morning. The group got as far as the parking lot when the machine slipped through the backhoe’s grip. The suspects fled in a black SUV leaving the machine and the ATM in the lot.
The group of robbers reportedly swiped the backhoe from a nearby construction yard.
“This is the 11th event in a pattern,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference last Friday. “Most of them are in Queens or Brooklyn North. We have seen two in Manhattan, where they’ll use brute force.”
Allegedly, the same group used a stolen tow truck to rip an ATM from the TD Bank on Metropolitan Avenue near 80th Street in Middle Village. The men hooked the machine to the tow truck and tried to pluck it from the sidewalk but the chains broke, causing the bank’s alarm system to kick-in.
No money was taken in either event.
Meanwhile, a rash of burglaries has popped up in Middle Village. According to police, there have been 11 robberies in July — many occurring while residents were home.
As many of the robbers have gained access through open back doors or screen doors that were left unlocked, police officers have been blanketing the area — especially on Juniper Valley Road, 75th Place and 77th Street, where many of the break-ins took place.
In many cases, the perps gained access through back alleyways where they could easily slip in and out of backyards without being seen.
“It’s a scary thought to think,” one resident said. “This is such a nice and quiet neighborhood that you wouldn’t think robberies would happen, but I guess that’s why these robbers come over here because they know we don’t expect it.”
There is a silver lining, though. Police have already arrested three people for taking cash, jewelry and electronics from several homes and a fourth suspect is expected to be arrested soon.
“I met with [District Attorney Richard] Brown to make sure we caught the guys and that we will catch the others involved,” President of the Juniper Park Civic Association Bob Holden said. “Most of these, when I spoke to the police, were drug-related, but we have good cops and I don’t think people should be alarmed. We should be more vigilant and lock our doors, but I don’t think it will last long.”
Despite the number of arrests, it is unclear whether the four individuals were behind all 11 incidents.
Police officers are asking residents to lock their doors and keep an eye on their property as well as their neighbors’ property.
“When I wake up every morning, I look out the window and see what’s going on,” Holden said. “I think it would help if we all did that.”