Although the rash of burglaries that hit Howard Beach during the week of March 22 has now ended, Deputy Inspector Jeffery Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, said the additional police presence continues.
Schiff told the audience at the precinct council meeting on April 9 in Ozone Park that since March 26, when police flooded the community with more than 60 officers and a command post vehicle, there have been no reported burglaries in Howard Beach. Asked by a resident how many police officers are continuing to patrol the area, Schiff would not be pinned down to an exact number, saying only, “It’s a lot,” and includes detectives, community affairs, plainclothes, uniformed and auxiliary police officers.
A Howard Beach resident, who only gave her first name, Maryann, noted three marked police cars and two unmarked units promptly responded to her neighbor’s house when his alarm went off.
Schiff said many residents have now activated their burglar alarms and there have been many accidental trips, which, because of the prior burglary problem in the area draws a quick response from police.
He told the audience that there was also a recent burglary spree in South Ozone Park, including thefts from parked Mister Softee trucks. Police flooded the area and there have been no reported burglaries since.
Although the burglaries have abated, auto thefts in the area are “out of control,” Schiff admitted. NYPD crime statistics for the precinct shows a 94 percent increase with 64 cars stolen between Jan. 1 and March 30 this year, compared to 33 stolen during the same period last year. Police attributed a third of the thefts to drivers leaving their cars running with the keys in the ignition.
He told the audience that police recovered 45 of the 64 stolen cars and 30 of those vehicles had no damage, which he attributed to having been stolen for joyriding. Schiff added that as police address auto thefts by making car and tow truck stops, they have also arrested drivers for driving with suspended licenses and driving while intoxicated.
The commander also addressed some other concerns.
One audience member asked Schiff if he had any further information on an individual who was spotted taking pictures of students during free play in the schoolyard at PS 65 in Ozone Park on April 2 at 10 a.m.
The deputy inspector said he would look into it but from what he knows nothing came of the questioning of the individual. He explained the photographer was likely identified by police and his background checked, and he was told to leave the school area.
“You don’t take pictures of children at a school,” Schiff said.
Complaints were made again this month about individuals collecting cans and bottles from recycling containers. Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said that once the containers are put out on the street, they become New York City property and individuals removing recyclables out are subject to arrest. She advised residents that if they see this occurring they should call the board’s office or 311 to report it.
Schiff added that if residents see individuals on their property collecting cans and bottles, that is considered trespassing and the homeowners should call 911.
The next meeting of the 106th Precinct Community Council will be held on Wednesday, May 14 at 8 p.m. at 103-51 101 St. in Ozone Park.