FOCA EYES SCAMMERS
104th Pct.: Watch Out For Impostors
Despite across-the-board declines in major crimes, residents at the Thursday, Apr. 28 joint meeting of the 104th Precinct Community Council and the Farmers Oval Civic Association (FOCA) at the Ridgewood Baptist Church were warned about scam artists in the area looking to make a quick buck.
P.O. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit cautioned civic members about a band of imposters trying to make their way into people’s homes by disguising themselves as utility reps for Con Edison and National Grid.
In addition, Annmarie Dolphin of Assemblyman Mike Miller’s office advised listeners to be wary of people posing as satellite TV service representatives who will often respond to customer calls in pairs and look to distract the homeowner.
She recounted that, in one instance, a woman accompanying one of the phony workers tried to sneak into her bathroom, while her partner was at the other end of the residence. Dolphin explained how the service technicians aren’t employees of the direct broadcast provider, but subcontractors who aren’t screened or given background checks.
One resident even brought up the fact that several unscrupulous individuals continue to send emails falsely notifying people that they’ve been named inheritors in a forgotten uncle’s will who has just died in Nigeria.
In reporting the latest year-to-date trends in criminal activity, Bell stated that major crimes had decreased by seven percent, including diminished numbers in the areas of murders (zero versus one), robberies (57 versus 75), burglaries (99 versus 129), felony assaults (61 versus 66) and grand larceny auto thefts (95 versus 109).
Grand larcenies, however, were up from 114 the year prior to 151. Bell attributed the growing pattern of thefts to people having their identities stolen, and also mentioned a crime pattern in which individuals are routinely stealing car rims.
Lowdown on bank robberies
Officer Bell responded to concerns about several recent bank robberies in the area, including the holdup of a Bank of America branch on Forest and Myrtle avenues and the robbery of a Capital One Bank branch on Fresh Pond Road.
“We had a couple of robberies in Queens North over the past month. They did capture one guy who was responsible for a few. Usually bank robbers pass notes demanding money…usually there’s no violence involved,” he detailed.
The officer went on to advise civilians to yell loudly if they think they are being pursued by a mugger. Bell instructed them to run to lighted areas, but also suggested that they just cough up their personal property if they end up being backed into a corner with no help in sight.
“Money can be replaced—a life cannot,” he said on the matter.
Tops in graffiti arrests
Audience members were made aware that his command leads all New York City precincts in graffiti arrests.
“We are building up cases,” Bell said in reference to a number of common tags that they have recently recorded in the effort to identify prolific vandals.
Many of the individuals defacing property, he noted, are young adults who live in the area of 70th Street and Central Avenue. In response to whether a property owner can sue the parents of a juvenile vandal, Bell replied that graffiti victims could indeed take legal action under that scenario.
Officers foil a robbery
The 104th Precinct’s special operations coordinator, Lt. James Lombardi, credited P.O. Yuseff Hamm and P.O. Pablo Peralta for the Mar. 12 arrest of a suspect who reportedly robbed a Myrtle Avenue business at gunpoint.
Both officers responded to the call of shots being fired and placed the thief under arrest shortly after. The individual in question was a repeat offender who was collared 25 times prior to his latest crime.
Hamm and Peralta received Cop of the Month plaques, donated by the Times Newsweekly, for their work in identifying and apprehending the perpetrator.
Community Council President Michael Hetzer promised to relay all parking gripes in and around the Mafera Park area to Parks Department Manager of Public Spaces Rene Herrera, including one resident’s claim that multiple motorists regularly leave their cars in the park. Bell assured those in attendance that his officers always run the license plates of illegally-parked vehicles.
On the topic of groups of teens congregating on people’s stoops, Hetzer informed community members that officers don’t have the authority to order them to relocate unless the request is specifically made by the owner of the building.
Bell did point out that people are expected to lower their decibel levels at 10 p.m. Although the parties themselves are “legal,” he said, celebrations producing unreasonable levels of noise would be dealt with by police.
Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, Hetzer asked everyone to forward him a list of concerns and quality-of-life issues plaguing the community before next month’s meeting in order for him to keep elected officials and agency representatives abreast of the latest happenings.
The Farmers Oval Civic Association will again hold a joint meeting with the 104th Precinct Community Council at next month’s meeting, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 26 at the Ridgewood Baptist Church, located at 64-13 Catalpa Ave.
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