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Queens Chronicle

111th cop talks theft prevention at CB 11

Board also debates $2.75 in-city Long Island Rail Road ticket proposal

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:31 pm, Thu Oct 17, 2019.

Want to avoid being a victim of theft?

Heed the advice 111th Precinct Community Affairs Officer John Erdman told Community Board 11 on Monday night.

There are steps any homeowner can take to reduce his or her chances of being burglarized, he explained to the northeast Queens advisory panel.

“When you leave for work, make sure you lock the door behind you,” Erdman said. “If you have an alarm system, use it. If you don’t have one, look into them.”

Many alarm systems can be bought now for just a few hundred dollars, the officer noted. He uses one personally at his own home.

For automobile owners, grand larcenies are a major issue to worry about. And in many of the cases in the 111th, Erdman said, the perps are coming from out of town.

“We’ve made multiple arrests in these types of situations, and we find out a lot of times that these people are not from your neighborhoods,” he said. “They’re driving into your neighborhood. The stuff is good in the cars in the Bayside area, in the Little Neck area.”

In the evening and at night, the thieves will walk the streets and check door handles, Erdman explained.

He urged those at the meeting to remove anything of value — “tablets, wallets, credit cards, designer sunglasses, coins” — from their car.

Even items like cell-phone chargers will get stolen, Erdman said.

Another recent issue is the theft of rims and tires, which has been especially bad for owners of 2019 Honda or Acura cars.

“Park next to a high curb if possible,” he said. “Make it harder for them.”

Drivers can also make it tougher for the crooks by parking with their steering wheel turned all the way to the left or the right, Erdman added.

Later on in the meeting, CB 11 Transportation Committee Chairman Victor Dadras introduced a resolution crafted in support of a proposal to cut the cost of an in-city Long Island Rail Road trip down to $2.75, which is how much a rider pays for a single MetroCard swipe.

CB 11 represents the Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck stations on the Port Washington line. There are no subway stops in its district.

Supporters say the policy would shorten the commutes of many New Yorkers who would now regularly use the LIRR were it not for the high cost, and that it could relieve overcrowding on subways. Many of those who commute with it spend thousands each year on both LIRR passes and MetroCards, because they have to take a subway from Penn Station to their workplace. City Comptroller Scott Stringer, transportation advocates and some Queens elected officials have endorsed the proposal, which has been adopted in southeast Queens on a trial basis. The MTA has launched a pilot program at six stations there that allows residents to buy $2.75 tickets to the Atlantic Avenue stop in Brooklyn.

Dadras, who commutes to Manhattan on the Port Washington line, noted how CB 11’s area is considered a transportation desert. He also brought up how the LIRR’s ticket costs have seriously increased over the years. He also pointed to how rides from stations in Nassau and Suffolk counties are subsidized more than ones in Queens.

It didn’t take long for the board members — a great many of whom drive — to question the proposal.

Board member Henry Wang said he agreed that the LIRR is too expensive. “But I also live right next to the Auburndale train station” and parking there is already difficult and would get worse if the $2.75 policy was enacted.

Others voiced the same concern: Parking would be harder to find. The neighborhood would be impacted.

“How do we find a way to do this that doesn’t affect the people who live by the train station?” board member Paul DiBenedetto said. “I don’t want the ferry at Fort Totten for the same reason. It would do the same thing to Bay Terrace.”

Joan Garippa, another member of the panel, brought up how Garden City residents already park their cars for free on the streets in Little Neck and use its LIRR stations.

Board member Janet McEneaney, who commutes on the Port Washington line, said the policy would load up “an overcrowded transportation system with half of Queens and all of Nassau.”

But another LIRR commuter on the board, Barbara Gillespie, spoke out in favor of the plan. She said “we need to do something” about the high costs of the commuter rail line. And in response to concerns about overcrowding on the Port Washington line, she said that most of the time a seat can be found — which isn’t the case with the other trains she takes.

“If you actually think the railroad is bad, it’s not bad compared to the subway, which I take every day,” she said.

Gillespie did not in any way criticize or even mention McEneaney, but that didn’t stop the latter from saying she was “extremely offended” by Gillespie’s comments, despite Gillespie not criticizing her in any way.

Ben Turner, who sits on the panel, took issue with the criticism about the policy bringing in new people to northeast Queens.

“By that logic, we shouldn’t try to improve transit by any measure or institute any improvements to our community because we’re going to attract these ... outsiders,” he said. “We have to remember that we’re representing the whole community here.”

John Kelly, another CB 11 member, pushed back against some of his colleagues’ rhetoric.

He blasted the talk of “people coming into our neighborhood to use this. Well, I’m one of those people. Because right now, I don’t have enough money to take the Long Island Rail Road, so I take the subway.” And the subway trains, he pointed out, are “far more overcrowded” than the LIRR trains.

In response to the comments from Turner and Kelly, DiBenedetto clarified that he was not worried about the policy attracting people who live within Community District 11, just residents of Nassau County and other places.

“I appreciate that,” Kelly responded.

CB 11 also listened to a Little Neck parent discuss the city not having enough funds to keep the playground at PS 221 open all year long [see separate story in certain editions or online at qchron.com].

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