Only two crimes are up in the 109th Precinct in the most recent week vs. the same time last year — burglary by 250 percent and felony assault by 66.7 percent.
“Majority of burglaries are commercial in Downtown Flushing,” said Captain John O’Connell, the precinct’s commanding officer. “Believe it or not, a lot are results of unlocked windows and doors. We had one where someone left the key under the mat.”
The officers are searching for one perpetrator, however, who is responsible for three incidents. The suspect broke into three Whitestone residences between Sept. 15 and 22 by entering through their rear windows, but only removed property on his final break-in — he took $1,500 worth of jewelry before fleeing in a white SUV.
There were seven burglaries between Oct. 5 and 11 compared to just two during the same time period in 2019. The crime has been steadily rising throughout 2020 and is up 37 percent for the entire year
“A lot of it is education,” O’Connell said on how the precinct is combating the issue. Teaching business owners and residents how to properly secure their property is the biggest component to driving down crime. “Also, we’re increasing police presence. We’re asking officers to get out of their patrol cars and walk around a little more. Our auxiliary officers are coming back, and we’re going to deploy more.”
Felony assaults are up 66.7 percent for the week, which translates to five incidents compared to three in the same week the year before. Unlike burglaries, the increase is just a blip and is inconsistent with year-to-date reporting — felony assaults are down 12.3 percent for the year.
One incident the police are looking to solve is from Sept. 9. The suspect was aboard an eastbound 7 train approaching the Main Street station at 7:30 p.m. when he got into a verbal dispute with a 32-year-old woman. The fight escalated and the suspect punched the victim in the face with a closed fist and hopped off the train at Main Street. The victim attempted to follow him, but lost sight of him. She was later treated for lacerations and bruising to the face.
O’Connell said that the incident is a rarer one for the precinct, which disproportionately deals with property crimes rather than violent crime.
He said a robbery from Oct. 5 was another rare incident for the precinct — two men approached a Flushing residence claiming to be police officers. They forcibly entered the senior couple’s home and, once inside, took an undetermined amount of money and jewelry before fleeing.
“We don’t have anything else like that going on. That’s not to say that that won’t happen again, but it seems like it was a specific location, so right now that’s the way it’s being treated,” O’Connell said about the strange incident. Robberies in the 109 are down 40 percent for the week and 6.4 percent for the year.
The commanding officer said that precinct community council and Build the Block meetings could resume again soon, where he would take the opportunity to educate residents on how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of crime.
“Self-awareness drives crime down. That’s my job — to have outreach,” he said.
Overall crime in the precinct is up 3.1 percent for the year so far.