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Queens Chronicle

Live in the 109th? Watch your stuff

Thefts, burglaries remain top crimes in Flushing’s grab-happy precinct

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:40 am, Thu Jan 24, 2013.

Assistant Managing/Online Editor

The 109th Precinct experienced a mixed bag of results for 2012, as the headline-grabbing crimes such as murder and rape fell while nearly all other forms of lawlessness increased.

According to the precinct’s commanding officer, Inspector Brian Maguire, the 109th has always experienced a heavy level of property crimes, and last year was no different.

Much like Mayor Bloomberg, Maguire blamed Apple. The Cupertino, Calif. tech company’s gadgets, including iPhones and iPods, accounted for a large number of robberies that occurred in the precinct. Victims weren’t vigilant in protecting their devices, leaving them hanging out of their bags or open in their hands. Robberies increased 6.3 percent in 2012 as a result, with a final tally of 262.

“You walk around the street with one of those screens glowing in your hands, it’s like a beacon for criminals,” Maguire said at Monday’s Community Board 7 meeting in Flushing.

The added distraction of texting or checking email while walking also accounted for a number of pedestrians being struck by cars while crossing Flushing’s streets.

Maguire suggested iDevice owners implement tracking software built into their gadgets, which has sometimes proved helpful in tracking down the thieves. But not always.

An underground market for stolen devices exists, as second-hand shops buy iPhones and iPods without questioning their provenance, wipe them clean and resell them, according to the inspector.

Felony assaults also increased in 2012, which Maguire attributed to domestic violence calls.

But the most frequent crimes remain burglary and grand larceny, which saw a respective 9.8 and 10.3 percent increase in 2012. Thieves have a knack for re-emerging after short prison spells, Maguire said, with some of the highest recidivist rates of any crime category.

The burglaries can be chalked up to a lack of vigilance within the community, he added. Last year, 436 occurred within the 109th, and they were not centralized to just one section of the precinct.

“No area is immune to the problem of burglaries,” Maguire said, adding the best antidote is a bit of community vigilance.

Neighbors ignoring unusual happenings, like the odd flat-screen television being moved out of the home next door, may be witnessing a crime.

“Not a lot of people have work done in their yards at night,” Maguire added.

Car thieves have also left their mark on the precinct, though at a smaller rate. The number of grand larceny autos dropped 2.6 percent in 2012. But the targets are the same, with the Ford Econoline van remaining the most stolen vehicle. Maguire said thieves typically steal the vehicles and sell them for scrap.

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