With the holiday season in full swing, Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, urged residents at the community council meeting last week in Ozone Park to exercise care as they go out and shop for gifts for the holidays.
“During the holiday season, bad guys go shopping too, but they don’t go shopping like you (do)...they take it from hardworking people like yourselves,” Pascale told the audience.
He urged residents not to leave the gifts they purchased in view in their cars, but to put them in the trunk.
Noting the high rate of thefts of iPhones, he also asked them to be discrete when they use their smartphones — especially when they get off a train. A high number of phone thefts have been reported on and near subway stations.
To protect against identity theft, Pascale suggested that when residents use bank ATMs, they use one debit/credit card to enter the ATM area and another debit/credit card at the machine itself.
The inspector said that scammers can get personal information from the magnetic strips on the back of debit or credit cards used to enter the banks off-hours and combine that information with PIN numbers to withdraw money from bank accounts.
He also suggested using one’s free hand to cover the number pad as you enter the PIN number.
The meeting then turned to other topics. Dale Cuneo, the parent of a student attending PS 232 in Lindenwood, complained about the lack of a replacement for a school crossing guard at the intersection of 84th Street and 153rd Avenue, who she said has been out six times since school started.
Cuneo said that with the addition of students from PS 207 in Howard Beach, which has been closed since Hurricane Sandy, the situation at the school is precarious without a crossing guard there.
“It’s chaos in the morning,” she said. “I don’t feel comfortable when there’s no crossing guard there.”
Cuneo said that to avoid the disorder at the corner she parks a block away to let her daughter cross that intersection.
Cuneo said that in the afternoon when classes are dismissed her daughter and her friends walk to Waldbaum’s in the Lindenwood Shopping Center where she picks her daughter up.
She added that even when the crossing guard is on duty, it is not enough.
“It’s impossible for one crossing guard to cross all those children and keep them safe. To me it’s unacceptable,” Cuneo said. “Where are the crossing guards from 207?”
Pascale told Cuneo that he would have the precinct’s school sergeant contact her about the situation.
The council members also used the meeting to hold a small celebration for President Frank Dardani’s birthday, with a whipped cream cake for all to enjoy.
The next meeting of the 106th Precinct Community Council will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. at 103-51 101 St. in Ozone Park.