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New cops in 109th bring sharp drop in burglaries

During 2002,...

By Alexander Dworkowitz

The introduction of a new unit of officers into the 109th Police Precinct in late November appears to have contributed to the significant decline of burglaries in northeast Queens during recent weeks, crime statistics for December indicate.

During 2002, burglaries rose more than 13 percent for the year, making the 109th Precinct home to more burglaries than any other precinct in the city.

But after the arrival of the new unit of 21 officers from Patrol Borough Queens North to the precinct at the end of November, burglaries fell by 18.4 percent from Dec. 9 to Jan. 5, compared with the same period the year before. Seventy-five burglaries occurred in the latest period compared to 92 in the same year-earlier span.

“Now that we have had an influx of help from other precincts, that has brought down the statistics quite a bit,” said Wanda Beck Antosh, the 109th’s Community Council president.

The burglary unit, called a suppression team, was assigned to cover the entire precinct, which includes Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace.

An additional force of 37 police officers was brought into the 109th this month as part of “Operation Impact,” the city’s drive to concentrate officers in high-crime areas. Unlike the burglary suppression team, which operates throughout the precinct, the new force was assigned specifically to downtown Flushing.

While auto thefts plagued the 109th Precinct at the beginning of 2002, the crime had dropped off significantly by year’s end, and car thefts were down almost 8 percent over the course of the year.

The precinct’s community affairs division promoted a campaign to etch Vehicle Inspection Numbers onto as many cars as possible, and officers also made several arrests of suspected car thieves operating in the area.

During 2002, rapes were also down in the precinct, with 15 last year as compared to 22 in 2001. Six people were murdered in the precinct in 2002 vs. five people the previous year.

The rate of grand larcenies also rose by 6.5 percent in 2002. Rates of robbery and assault remained virtually unchanged.

The suppression team was assigned to remain with the 109th on a temporary basis and was to leave once burglaries were shown to remain low.

Antosh, however, worried that expected cutbacks to the Police Department would reverse the progress made in fighting burglaries.

“Once they start cutting back, it’s going to be bad for us,” she said. “It won’t be a pleasant situation.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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