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Crime rate plummets in the 115th Precinct

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Rape, robbery, felony assault, major theft and car theft have all dropped, according to Police Department figures from Jan. 1 through June 20 for the precinct that covers Jackson Heights, North Corona and East Elmhurst.

Burglary rates, however, have risen 8.1 percent in the first from 209 incidents in the first half of last year to 226 so far this year.

Rapes fell 4 percent, from 25 in 2003 to 24 in 2004. Year-to-date robberies dropped 25.8 percent from 217 to 161 between 2003 and 2004. Felony assault fell 9.7 percent from 123 incidents in the first six months last year to 111. Major theft dropped 12.7 percent from 352 incidents in 2003 to 307 in 2004. And auto theft declined 8.1 percent from 221 car thefts in 2003 to 203 so far this year.

Murder was unchanged with two reported homicides as of June 20.

On June 6 Joaquin Flores, 18, was discovered shot in front of a Corona bridal shop. He was declared dead at Elmhurst Medical Center.

And on May 22 Fernando Rodriguez, 20, was the victim of a gang-style beating at Northern Boulevard and 70th Street. He died nine days later.

No arrests have been made in the Flores case, but several teenagers with possible links to the Latin Kings gang have been arrested and charged in Rodriguez's assault.

The Jackson Heights-based precinct is among the city's most diverse. The city selected it to participate in a trial of the Language Line Interpretation program, which offers officers simultaneous interpretation in real-time of multiple languages through the use of dedicated cell phones.

Like the city as a whole, the Jackson Heights precinct, which got a new commander in March, has seen a precipitous decline in homicides over the decade from 1993 to 2003. Capt. Douglas Rolston said in an interview shortly after he arrived that he would continue to build on the precinct's record of crime reduction.

In 1993 there were 21 murders. In 2003 that figure had fallen to seven.

While the number of reported rapes during the first six months of this year is down slightly over last year, the 10-year trend points to increased rapes.

In 1993 there were 36 reported rapes. By 2003 that number had climbed to 40 for the year.

Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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