Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, is warning owners of Ford Econoline vans that thieves are targeting their vehicles.
At the Sept. 11 meeting of the precinct’s community council in Ozone Park, Pascale said the late-model passenger vans are being taken because the parts are interchangeable with prior year models going back 20 years and because workers who own the vans often keep tools stored in them.
He said that a van being used for work purposes was recently stolen after the owner left the door unlocked and the keys in the ashtray for his employee to retrieve them.
Stolen vans were not the only issue Pascale fielded during the meeting.
Frank Dardani, the council’s president, said he had received several complaints about residents placing traffic cones to save their parking spots on 117th Street between 107th and Liberty avenues in South Richmond Hill. Pascale said it was illegal to place cones in the street to block parking spots.
“People actually beat each other up with weapons over parking spots in Queens,” Pascale said, adding, “It’s really disrespectful.”
He said people should call the precinct and officers will respond and seize the cones.
He also brought up the ongoing problem of robberies of subway passengers leaving stations on Liberty Avenue.
He said the robbers, described as two male Hispanics and a black male with a bicycle displaying what appears to be a handgun, have been targeting people — mainly women with cell phones — getting off the train and walking south on Liberty Avenue from the 80th and 88th streets stations.
Capt. Roberto Cruz, commanding officer of Transit District 23, which covers 10 train stations within the precinct command, told the audience that crime was down 15 percent in the area and down 35 percent overall for the year in the district compared to last year. He said cell phone thefts represented the largest portion of their reported crime.
A South Ozone Park resident, who would only identify himself as David, said owners of a nearby store were working on derelict vehicles on 135th Place between Rockaway Boulevard and Sutter Avenue.
“It’s an ongoing problem,” David said, adding that there were 8 to 10 vehicles there.
Pascale also reminded residents not to leave valuables in full view inside their cars. He said that recently a woman parked her convertible with the top down in front of a Cross Bay Boulevard restaurant and left her purse in the car when she went in to eat. The purse was gone when she returned.
“They didn’t even need to open the door,” Pascale said.
Tractor trailers parking overnight on the southbound Woodhaven Boulevard service road between 101st Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard were a concern to a resident who declined to give his name.
“It’s out of control, it’s been going on for two years,” he said, adding, “You can’t walk by, you don’t feel safe. I’m here looking for help.”
Since truck cabs don’t have license plates, the police can’t issue summonses to them. However, Pascale said they can be booted.
Panhandlers bothering motorists every day on Cross Bay and Conduit boulevards were a concern expressed by a Howard Beach resident. Pascale said that it is illegal for the panhandlers to be walking in traffic and told the resident to send him an email when she sees them again and he will send an officer to the location.
Responding to several residents’ complaints about block parties that exceeded their permit time limitation, Pascale said that if notified of the location police would deny the permit next year.
The next meeting of the 106th Precinct Community Council will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at the precinct house.