It was standing room only at last week’s gathering of the 106th Precinct Community Council in Ozone Park, as residents packed the police station’s meeting room to voice their complaints about such issues as noise, scams and exhaust fumes.
Before addressing the complaints, Capt. Thomas Pascale, the precinct’s commanding officer, told the audience to be alert to identity theft.
He said that over the past month at bank branches on Cross Bay Boulevard, individuals have installed skimmers and cameras to pick up customers’ PIN numbers from debit cards and bank ATM cards.
Pascale said the crooks often install the skimmers just before the weekend and remove them before they are detected. He noted that putting your hands over the PIN pad while typing often shields the code from prying eyes.
To further lessen your chance of being a victim of identity theft, Pascale suggested not letting your credit card out of your sight.
He also advised shredding personal documents before disposing of them in the trash.
Credit card applications sent to residents should also be shredded, since an identity thief could steal the application, change the address and mail it back to the credit card company, Pascale said.
The captain also said thieves are hitting South Queens in the early morning hours —usually around 4 a.m. — and stealing car rims. He said the problem is especially prevalent in Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Ozone Park, and the criminals typically target 2011 and 2012 Maximas, Accords and Camrys.
“We know they mainly hit midweek and usually on a rainy night,” Pascale said.
“We need some crime prevention help on your part,” said Pascale.
He said that car owners should get high-quality tire locks from their car dealers to deter the theft of their rims and tires and park in a well-lit spot.
“Do not keep the [tire lock] key inside the car,” he said.
“We take a lot of steps to prevent these rim thefts, but it’s very, very hard,” he added.
The captain also urged residents to lock their car doors and to not leave valuables inside the car —or, if they must, to not leave them in plain sight.
In other meeting news, Council President Frank Dardani warned residents to be on the alert for individuals posing as gas company representatives seeking entrance to their homes.
He urged residents not to let these people in — no matter how insistent they are.
“These guys are good at what they do,” Dardani said. “You have to be very careful; don’t be so trusting of people.”
“If you don’t know them, you didn’t call them, don't let them in,” Dardani said.
He also warned residents not to give personal information to complete strangers on the street.
He said he was surprised when a neighbor told him that he had answered many personal questions from a stranger who said he worked for an alarm company.
Lt. Eric Campbell discussed the precinct’s response to last month’s complaints.
In response to complaints from several Ozone Park residents about the noisemakers on weekends at Gemini Field at South Conduit and Linden boulevards, Campbell said that he and his officers went to the location and issued six summonses to the violators.
“We’ll be out there,” said Campbell.
Campbell said the addresses of chronic noisemakers have been noted and the precinct has organized an additional precinct conditions unit to address problems.
Community Affairs Officer Ken Zorn said the precinct issued 122 noise summonses, including 22 for loud parties, last month.
In an effort to stop trouble at large parties before they start, Pascale urged residents to contact the precinct when they see the obvious signs — gigantic speakers, kegs of beer, and large quantities of alcohol being delivered.
“If you see that, you have to let us know immediately,” Pascale said.
Several residents at the council meeting expressed their own concerns to Pascale.
South Ozone Park resident Carmen Miranda, who had complained at a previous council meeting about a racing car parked on the property next door that was giving off fumes, which wafted into her home, drew laughter from the audience when she said she was happy that it had been raining and wished it would continue to rain the whole summer so the owner could not work on his car.
She had reported that her next-door neighbor had rented her driveway, which is located in the vicinity of 122nd Street and 111th Avenue, to another neighbor, who was parking his racing car in the driveway.
Deacon Joseph Wolf of the Zion Tabernacle Church in South Ozone Park thanked Pascale for his help in correcting an ongoing dangerous condition at the Rite Aid drugstore parking lot at 96th Street and Rockaway Boulevard.
“It’s much improved,” Wolf said.
He said that motorists who do not want to wait for the long red light at that intersection had been taking a shortcut through the Rite Aid lot.
Bernie Rodrigues, of Richmond Hill, said that when the noise level rose from a party on his block he called the police. When the officers responded, the noise died down, Rodrigues said. But he said that when the police officers left, the noise returned to its original level.
Rodrigues asked if the noisemakers do not adhere to police warnings that their speakers be taken.
Pascale said that although the paperwork required for the confiscation of speakers would take an officer off patrol for a few hours, 106th cops would take the speakers if the noise continued after they issued the initial warning.
Delacie Lewis, of South Ozone Park, complained about a mechanic doing work on cars and blocking her driveway near 132nd Street and Sutter Avenue. She said that he also plays loud music late at night and revs up car and motorcycle engines, making it impossible for her to sleep.
“I need help because I have to sleep at night,” she said.
Pascale asked her to talk to Officer Blake of the precinct’s Conditions Unit, who was at the meeting, about her problem.
Richmond Hill resident Surren Romotar alleged that underage drinking and loud music go on starting at noon on the weekends near 107th Avenue and 104th Street.
Campbell told Romotar that his complaint would be addressed by the precinct’s conditions sergeant and his team.
The next meeting of the 106th council will be held on Wednesday, July 11 at 8 p.m. at the precinct station house, at 103-53 101 St. in Ozone Park.