Sunnyside men arrested in 111th Pct. burglaries

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Two Sunnyside men who were arrested Thursday after allegedly being spotted breaking into a College Point home are suspects in a rash of burglaries in the 107th, 109th and 111th precincts in northeast Queens, police said.

Police believe Henry Arana, 23, and Juan Hernandez, 20, both of Sunnyside, were two members of a team of up to 50 robbers who have stolen money and jewelry from homes throughout Queens, 109th Precinct Capt. Scott Shanley said last Thursday.

The police did not have official estimates on how much the team may have allegedly stolen.

Arana and Hernandez were arraigned in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens Friday on charges of attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools and criminal trespassing.

“They’re part of a crew that’s burglarized houses throughout the area,” 109th Precinct Officer John Fleming said. The 109th, 107th and 111th precincts cover an area spanning Flushing, College Point, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows, Bayside and Little Neck.

Shanley said he believes Arana and Hernandez were part of a unit of about four out of the 50 who operated in Queens and that Arana was their “crew chief.”

As many as 50 other people have been arrested on burglary charges in Queens and are believed to be related to Arana’s and Hernandez’s unit, police said.

“We don’t really equate them with violence to any degree,” Shanley said of Arana and Hernandez. “They do a lot of surveillance to make sure people aren’t home.”

Fleming, the arresting officer, said the burglary team has been suspected of operating in the area for more than a year and a half.

The two men were apprehended last Thursday a few blocks from a home they were allegedly trying to burglarize, he said. The police learned of the incident from a resident who reported seeing the two attempt to break into the home.

“Today they didn’t get into the house. They just pried in,” Fleming said.

He said one suspect was caught driving away from the scene in a Mazda, while the other was stopped on foot.

Fleming said the burglary team was carrying out anywhere from five to eight break-ins per day.

In last Thursday’s attempted break-in, Arana and Hernandez were allegedly using screwdrivers and a lead pipe to enter the side door and window of a house on 26th Avenue in College Point.

They were arrested on charges of burglary, criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools, according to police.

Shanley said he is “confident” the two men are connected to other robberies in the region.

Whether or not more suspects will be apprehended as a result of the two arrests remains to be seen, he said.

“Burglary is a tough crime,” said Shanley, who pointed out that “99 percent of the time there’s no evidence or no witnesses.”

The two were due back in court April 9.

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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