Overall crime continues to decrease in the 109th Precinct with recent data reporting a 32.3 percent decline in week-to-date crime when compared with statistics from the same time in the previous year. Crime for the past 28 days saw a 24.5 percent decline as well and year-to-date statistics dropped by 4.7 percent.
“However, we have seen two constants [increase] in the past two months,” Deputy Inspector Keith Shine, the precinct’s commanding officer, told the Chronicle. “Burglaries. Specifically our commercial locations, mostly in the Downtown Flushing area closed due to COVID, they’ve been burglarized.”
Within the last 28 days, the precinct saw a 23.5 percent increase in burglaries, which Shine said results from thieves going into the “vacant buildings.”
“We’re seeing a smaller group of people taking advantage of the places left unattended,” said Shine, adding that his officers had successfully made multiple arrests over several incidents and continue the search for offenders they believe to be responsible for more than one case.
Shine also reported an uptick in residential burglaries, particularly mail theft.
“They’ve been stealing stimulus checks,” said Shine, noting that roughly half of the incidents were related to the federal relief funds and he advised homeowners not to “leave the mail piled up.”
“Lastly, we’ve also seen commercial truck burglaries,” he continued, noting that the crime is classified as a burglary rather than grand larceny in a vehicle. “Say a plumber’s truck — that vehicle is broken into ... and by and large it’s tools that are taken out.”
The second constant increase in crime reported by the 109th Precinct is auto theft, which Shine said has started to include motorcycles as the weather warms.
“We had 11 GLAs over the last month and that was compared to eight last year, five of which were motorcycles,” he said, referring to grand larceny auto.
In addition to warning residents against becoming victims of rising burglary and auto theft rates, Shine warns of a new telephone scam targeting seniors.
“I got a call from a community member that her mother received a call from someone saying, ‘Hey, I’m your grandson. I’m in the hopsital and I was treated for COVID, but they won’t let me leave until I pay $1,000,’ or something like that,” Shine explained. “If someone receives a call from an alleged family member, make sure to verify that.”
As for the health of his officers, Shine reported that the precinct is back to its average patrol numbers and that no one has tested positive in about a month. With numbers back to normal, the precinct has turned its attention to parks and enforcing social distancing.
“Parks are still a focus,” Shine said. “Our big thing is awareness and prevention. We’re not making arrests or issuing summonses, but social gatherings and large parties are still things were enforcing against. Hopefully, it’ll only be for a little while longer if we abide by the current rules. We understand it’s been a long time now, but if people can refrain from large barbecues and parties this holiday weekend it won’t be for much longer.”