Crime in Forest Hills and Rego Park increased 26 percent in the 28-day period through Aug. 30 compared to the same stretch last year, but the commander of the 112th Precinct said it’s due to one bad week at the beginning of August and extremely low numbers last year.
On Aug. 4 alone there were five burglaries and three robberies.
“For the 112, that will ruin a month for you,” Capt. Joseph Cappelmann, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, told the Chronicle Tuesday.
There was a total of four robberies in the period, up from one. A man in custody in Manhattan is believed to be responsible for two of them. The third was a shoplifting attempt at Century 21 on Junction Boulevard in Rego Park, where a man was stealing clothes and displayed a knife when he was confronted. The fourth was a street robbery on 78th Avenue and Queens Boulevard.
“Robberies, you never want them to be up but last year there was only one for the period so it’s kind of hard to match that,” Cappelmann said.
Felony assaults increased from seven to nine during the period.
“I was convinced that during COVID, the lockdown, domestic assaults would increase,” Cappelmann said.
He said that didn’t happen immediately but five of the nine felony assaults in the 28-day period were domestic incidents, with all resulting in arrests.
Burglaries increased from 10 to 14 and grand larcenies from 25 to 26.
“You’re starting to see the shoplifting come back as these stores start to open,” Cappelmann said. “We haven’t really had the shoplifting grand larceny complaints. We’re starting to see those.”
He said the precinct is still tackling phone scams and identity theft cases.
“It’s tough to fight, other than letting people know to protect their identity,” Cappelmann said. “Education is really the best way we can fight back.”
Car thefts increased from two to five, similar stats to the robbery increase with Cappelman noting “two is a low number.”
The commander expects the numbers to drop due to recent arrests that were made.
“A small percentage of the population commits the majority of the crime,” he said. “When you take them off the street, those few individuals, you’ll see the crime level out a little bit.”
As chaotic scenes have broken out across the country recently, Cappelmann said the area hasn’t seen that.
“We’re very, very lucky,” he said. “We haven’t seen any random acts of violence. We’re really, really fortunate.”
There have been no shooting incidents, though there have been about nine calls in the last month from residents who heard fireworks or loud car pipes that make sounds similar to gunshots.
Is there a way for residents to tell the difference between fireworks and gunshots?
“Not really,” Cappelmann said. “It’s really just experience. Hearing gunshots in the street, it’s a very crisp sound. To me it’s pretty much unmistakable but to people who aren’t accustomed to hearing it, I don’t think they’d be able to tell the difference.”
At previous posts he worked with ShotSpotter, the NYPD’s gunfire detection system that uses sensors to triangulate the place of a shooting and alert police. The 112th Precinct doesn’t use it. The 114th Precinct is the only one in Patrol Borough Queens North that does.
The system listens, evaluates the sound and then has someone who is trained listen to it at ShotSpotter and then they determine whether they think it’s gunshots before sending it to the NYPD.
“There’s no perfect way of determining,” Cappelmann said, adding that anytime a precinct gets a call it is taken seriously, with a thorough canvas of the area for property damage, ballistics or witnesses.
“It’s really amazing technology and it’s helped [the department] out tremendously in the past few years,” he said.
Cappelmann doesn’t expect an expansion of the expensive technology.
“I don’t think you’ll see it citywide,” the commander said.