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There was a time when car theft in the 109th Precinct was just a fact of life. Residents of communities such as Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace paid extra for car insurance because statistics showed that sooner or later most likely sooner their cars would be stolen.
The police theorized that professional car thieves were drawn to the north shore because in minutes they could drive over the bridges to the chop shops in the Bronx. Before the owner knew the car was gone, it was already in pieces.
That changed under Mayor Giuliani. Grand Larceny Auto was cut in half. But the car thieves are back. In a meeting with the Whitestone taxpayers Association, Deputy Inspector Owen Monaghan of the 109th Precinct revealed that car theft was up 26 percent last month. In addition, he said, the thieves are now targeting cars for parts such as headlights.
The city witnessed Friday night how serious these thieves can get when an alleged car thief opened fire on a rookie police officer in Brooklyn. This is serious business and the people involved in it are not just a nuisance, they are dangerous.
The inspector described a number of programs that will help citizens protect their cars, such as VIN etching and CAT and HEAT stickers. Thats all well and good. Like car alarms, the Club and Lojack, these things can help. But nothing will stop the problem from growing unless the district attorneys come down like a hammer on the car thieves and chop shops.
Its hard to boost cars when youre sitting in Rikers or some upstate prison.
Editorial: 18 years late again!
For the 18th year in a row, the lawmakers in Albany have failed to agree on a budget on time. The April 1 deadline came and went and the Legislature and the governor were just beginning to get serious about the state budget. The budget is now one month late and as of this writing the resolution is nowhere in sight.
In reality, of course, most of the state legislators have nothing to do with the budget negotiations. They are in fact nothing more than window-dressing waiting for the party leadership to tell them how to vote. The state budget process comes down to three people: Gov. Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer).
Although we are troubled by the lack of involvement by our representatives in the budget process, what bothers us more is the fact that serious negotiations do not even begin until the deadline has passed.
This year the stakes for New York City are higher than they have ever been. Mayor Bloomberg has warned that if the city does not get serious budget help from Albany, Washington and the citys unions, he will be forced to implement major cutbacks in services. The city needs answers by June 5.
At the close of the week, Silver announced he was optimistic that the city would get the help it needs from the state. This angered Bruno, who complained that Silver was trying to steal the credit for helping the city. He warned that Silvers comments could be a deal breaker. Lets see if we understand the majority leader. New York City is reeling from a national recession and the worst terrorist attack ever to take place on American soil and Bruno is fussing about who should get the credit for helping the city?
New York City made tremendous progress during the Giuliani years. But those gains could be lost if the city is forced to cut back on police and sanitation and to delay repairing and building schools.
The Queens delegation should tell their leaders to stop the bickering and get the job done.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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