Today’s news:

College Point patrol celebrates 10 years

Ten years ago Sabina Cardali, a civic activist in College Point, got a phone call from a friend whose house had been burglarized. The woman had just finished showering when she discovered two men rummaging through her belongings.

Startled, the men left, fleeing in a van. But a neighbor of the woman was able to take down the license plate, which Cardali gave to everyone in College Point, including senior citizen groups and the postman. She told them to call her if they ever spotted the van. The postman did and phoned Cardali, who in turn called police.

Two suspects were soon arrested. Police said the men were implicated in 30 burglaries in the area.

The incident sparked the formation of the College Point Security Patrol, which celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday during a service at the First Reformed Church on 14th Avenue.

At the mass, the Rev. Carl Rosenblum invited the children in the audience up to the altar, where he explained to them the meaning of the word “security” and the function that the College Point Security Patrol serves. Afterwards, the patrol held a brunch that was open to everyone who attended the service.

The patrol, founded by Cardali and her husband Rocco, has about 30 volunteers each with two-way hand-held radios. If a volunteer spots something untoward, he or she radios into headquarters and the dispatcher phones the police.

The patrol — funded in part by Councilman Michael Abel (R-Bayside) and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) — is not a law enforcement body, but Cardali credits it with preventing crimes like burglaries and assaults from escalating further.

“There was a lot of crime going on in the community and we wanted to see if we could give a hand,” Cardali said.

Every Friday and Saturday, the patrol typically sends out two or three cars from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., which travel down every block in College Point keeping an eye out for criminal activity or the potential for it. They also are on hand for large public events and at large fires to help the police block off streets and divert traffic.

Cardali said she gets many calls from people who want to report crimes but are wary of leaving their name with the police. Cardali has become in effect an intermediary between the police and the community.

At the time of her friend’s burglary “there were break-ins, and a lot of the youth were not doing what they were supposed to,” she said. After giving out the license plate to everyone she knew, Cardali remembers getting a phone call two weeks later from the mailman, who believed that he had spotted the van and the two men.

She told him to stay on the block and act as though he was lost. “I picked up the phone, called the police and said I wanted help immediately,” Cardali said. Within minutes, police cars converged on 129th Street, where the van was parked, and the officers arrested three men suspected of being the burglars and their lookout.

“I was thrilled,” Cardali said. “Three burglars were breaking into homes with people in it, and they had been involved in 30 burglaries.”

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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