Community residents must get serious about crime prevention

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Fresh Meadows homeowner Susan Yang rushed to her father’s side when he had a stroke in China. Unfortunately, when she returned home, her house on 188th Street had been burglarized in spite of neighbors and friends watching the house.

She contacted the 107th Precinct and posted a $5,000 reward. She prepared fliers to alert the neighborhood and decided to form a group called the Miracle Action Group. On March 11, she spoke at a Community Board 8 meeting.

Yang wants to advocate for crime prevention and victim’s rights, provide seminars and therapy for crime victims and educate the public. She wants to have groups looking out for crime 24 hours a day. They plan to work with the police, local legislators and all community groups to obtain more police on the streets.

You can contact Yang at

This is good, but I have been involved with these type of activities over the past five decades. Fresh Meadows has a generally low crime rate. With our current recession, some people turn to crime. There have been more bank robberies lately. More police are assigned to a precinct if there are more reported crimes. If people do not report crimes, the statistics in the 107th are low and we are given fewer police.

In normal times, there is usually a string of burglaries or armed robberies every few years. The police mobilize, determine a pattern and put out plainclothes officers in non−descript cars. They either catch the criminals or the crooks move on to another neighborhood. We will have increased crime until the recession ends unless we discourage criminals.

About two decades ago, when car thefts were epidemic, the police provided money for a react program. A base radio was set up in the 107th Precinct headquarters and portable CB radios plugged into cigarette lighters were placed in cars. Pairs of us patrolled for a couple of hours every evening, in contact with the base radio.

The police had helped with more patrols. Road blocks stopped cars on streets leading onto expressways. Police were stationed on the roofs of the buildings in the parking lot in the Fresh Meadows development.

Eventually, people stopped coming and the program ended.

Also, different civic associations hired private patrol companies to patrol. It was big business and sometimes cost $30,000 for an eight−hour shift. The civics had to collect the money, pay the patrol company and check to make sure the cars were circulating around the neighborhood.

Gradually, as crime stayed low, people stopped paying for patrols, which ended in most civic areas. Today, though, there are still a couple of paid patrols where people still fear criminals due to their location.

You can prevent house burglaries by having key−operated locks, lights inside and outside your homes and timers to turn inside lights on and off at different hours; keeping large bushes or trees trimmed so burglars cannot hide behind them; having branches trimmed around street lights; having neighbors pick up circulars and debris from your front lawn so your house will look lived−in; having neighbors put some of their garbage bags in front of your house sometimes; having a neighbor pick up your mail; and having a neighbor park in your driveway so the house will looked lived−in.

Some people build houses or put in fancy doors, which scream out they have money in the house. Criminals case houses and certain types of construction alerts criminals to potential things they can steal. Criminals might follow businessmen home or find out were they live in order to burglarize or rob houses.

My neighbors do not bother putting on outside backyard lights. I fight with my wife about turning off one of my spotlights because the others do not have any lights. My wife usually wins, but I sometimes turn off one outside light for a few hours.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: We were lucky Flight 1549 was able to land in the Hudson River without loss of life. Now it seems the city wants to build a waste transfer station within the safety zone around LaGuardia Airport.

The garbage is supposed to be in containers in a sealed building, but this seems foolish. Will birds be attracted by the garbage smells? Has this been safely done elsewhere? Why will they be so close to the runways?

Posted 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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