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Burglaries soar 34 percent in 107th in first half of ‘02

Burglaries in the 107th Precinct soared in the first six months of this year, climbing nearly 34 percent compared to the same period in 2001, according to police statistics.

Capt. Patrick Heaney of the 107th Precinct declined to comment on the rise, but City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) attributed the increase to low staffing levels at the precinct.

Overall, major crime in the 107th Precinct fell by about 3 percent, led by an 18 percent drop in auto theft and nearly a 17 percent fall in grand larceny. Robbery declined by more than 7 percent, the number of rapes remained unchanged, and there were no murders from January through June.

Regardless of the 2001-2002 drop, the number of major crimes in the 107th Precinct is still 25 percent higher than the average for all the precincts included in Queens Patrol Borough South due mainly to burglaries, which were more than double the average for the seven other precincts in that group.

Felony assault numbers rose about 7 percent but were actually lower than the average for precincts in Queens Patrol Borough South.

The 107th Precinct encompasses Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hill, Briarwood, Pomonok, and Kew Gardens Hills.

Police in a regional command unit said they were not sure why burglaries rose so much in the 107th.

“It’s hard to put a real reason on that,” said Deputy Chief Dewey Fong of Queens Patrol Borough South. “Property crime has always been at the forefront in Queens.”

Gennaro said the 107th Precinct is understaffed and may not have enough officers to increase patrols in heavily burglarized areas.

“We need more deployment there. These are very low numbers here in terms of cops,” said Gennaro, who has been fighting to boost the numbers of officers at the 107th this year. “We are below what the bare minimum should be for the 107th.”

In April, 20 officers were added to the 107th’s force amid a spate of burglaries, bringing the total number of officers at the 107th to 139, Gennaro said. Since then 15 officers have left the 107th Precinct due to job changes, transfers, and retirement, he said.

The councilman said he would continue to lobby the mayor and police commissioner to put more officers in the 107th and to keep them there.

According to Fong, Queens Patrol Borough South may address the burglary problem by increasing patrols in neighborhoods that have been hit hard by the crime.

“We will evaluate where (officers) would best serve the borough and, yes, (burglaries) will be a consideration,” said Fong. “We would make a deployment where it is best to dispatch our resources.”

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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