There was standing room only at last week’s meeting of the 106th Precinct Community Council in Ozone Park, as residents packed the police station’s gathering room to voice their complaints about such issues as a recent rash of burglaries, an abandoned home and cars racing through stop signs.
Before addressing the complaints, Capt. Thomas Pascale, the precinct’s commanding officer, advised the audience that police had arrested a thief who had allegedly stolen a resident’s Apple iPhone. Pascale said they had tracked down the perpetrator based on the iPhone’s GPS tracking software.
The captain urged the smart phone owners to never turn off their devices, in case of theft. Most have GPS tracking, he noted, which the police can use to locate the stolen equipment and arrest the perpetrator.
He also asked the audience members to record the serial numbers of the electronics they purchase and list them with the police, who can then contact the owner if a device is stolen and recovered.
Several residents at the council meeting expressed their own concerns to Pascale.
Belinda, a South Ozone Park resident who did not want to give her last name, asked the police for help in stopping a rash of burglaries that has occurred in the last six months near her home around 131st Street and Linden Boulevard. She said some of the nine break-ins were made through windows and back doors.
Pascale responded by citing police investigative procedure, adding that the NYPD uses modern technology such as DNA evidence to catch crooks, just like on television’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
In a familiar refrain from the brass, he added that homeowners and businesses’ video surveillance cameras also aid police in their investigations.
And he noted that police also check the records of pawn shops in the area to see if any of the burglars have sold their stolen loot.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into a burglary investigation; we take it very seriously,” Pascale told the audience.
To help the police, Pascale asked residents to call 911 if they see a suspicious person or vehicle on their block.
Community Affairs Officer Brenda Bratcher added that residents can request a free crime prevention survey of their home by Officer Harriet Smyer-Young. Bratcher can be reached at (718) 845-2228.
One resident, who did not give her name, said she recently noticed a man pretending to be talking on the phone, when he was actually watching from a distance which of her neighbors answered the door when the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on them.
“You could be on to something,” Pascale said.
The captain added that it was a situation in which she should call 911 so police could investigate.
“When you see something, say something,” said Lindenwood Alliance co-President Christina Gold, who was at the meeting.
Joseph Napoleone, of Richmond Hill, said that a vacate order had been posted on an abandoned house near 108th Street and Liberty Avenue, but that the door was wide open, people were going in and out, and the electricity was still on.
Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said the board is on the case.
“It is being worked on, and it will get closed up,” she assured Napoleone.
South Ozone Park Civic Association West President Anthony Gellineau said he is concerned about cars speeding through the four-way stop sign at the intersection of 123rd Street and Sutter Avenue.
Lt. Christopher Charles, the precinct’s special operations unit commander, told Gellineau that he would have traffic officers monitor the corner.
Noting that it is a busy intersection, Charles said the precinct also would request a Department of Transportation traffic study at the corner to see if a traffic signal should be installed.
Richmond Hill resident Jimmy Mahassj asked for the assignment of a school crossing guard at the intersection of 125th Street and 103rd Avenue.
He said that recently a 10-year-old girl was recently hit by a car there, and that she remains in a coma.
Charles agreed that the corner does need a crossing guard.
Shifting to another major community issue, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) spoke about the proposed convention center at Aqueduct.
“The proposal to build the largest convention center in the nation at Aqueduct is an ambitious plan that must be undertaken responsibly and appropriately, with real community involvement and participation,” said Goldfeder.
He added out that the new plan would provide jobs and increase the possibility of a transportation upgrade for Ozone Park and the surrounding communities.
Goldfeder said the convention center represents a “real opportunity” for the community to finally get investments in local roads, highways and mass transit. The assemblyman has proposed reopening the Long Island Rail Road’s old Rockaway Beach line, which some want to turn into a greenway and others want left alone.
The next meeting of the 106th council will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at 8 p.m. at the precinct station house, at 103-53 101 St. in Ozone Park.