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Murder rise, rape decreases in 108th Precinct: Police

Overall crime numbers in Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside for the first four months of the year remained nearly even with the same period in 2007, but the 108th Precinct has seen major shifts in what type of crimes occurred since last year.

There have been two murders so far in 2008, compared to one in all of 2007. The most recent occurred in Woodside April 6, when 35-year-old Balbir Singh allegedly stabbed his wife to death and slashed his daughter's arm with a knife, police said.

Deputy Inspector Thomas Kavanagh, the 108th Precinct commander, named the officers who responded to the crime as his Cops of the Month at a recent precinct community council meeting, noting one gave CPR to the dying woman while another drove the 7-year-old girl directly to the hospital.

But while murders rose, the number of rapes dropped by half. There were three rapes reported through April 27, compared with six during the same period in 2007.

Lt. Mark Wachter said the rapes were all perpetrated by someone the victim knew, not by a random rapist.

"It's not someone walking down the street and being accosted by a stranger," he said at a precinct community council meeting.

Rapes were down, but felony assaults climbed 17.7 percent, with 73 reported through April 27 compared with 62 for the same part of last year. The number was also up noticeably for the month of April, which saw 17 assaults compared to seven in April 2007.

Wachter said the assaults are typically late-night incidents outside of bars, noting the precinct made 10 arrests in the April incidents.

"We do have the crime, but we also have the arrests behind it," he said.

Grand larcenies were also up for 2008, with 164 incidents through April 27 compared with 136 incidents for the same period of 2007, a 20.5 percent increase.

Kavanagh said the stolen item in many of these thefts was a Sidekick cell phone. The devices, ranging in cost between $100 and $400, are popular among teenagers, he said.

Of the 45 grand larcenies reported for the 28 days ending April 27, eight were what Kavanagh called "sidewalk snatches" of the Sidekicks. In response, police have beefed up their presence on Queens Boulevard and Jackson Avenue between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to keep an eye on students getting out of school, he said.

Auto theft was down 23.9 percent in the precinct, with 73 reported through April 27 compared with 96 in the same stretch in 2007.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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