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109th officers on the lookout for “utility” burglars

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Investigators at the NYPD’s 109th Precinct urged residents to report any suspicious behavior and take precautions to avoid becoming victims after two burglaries targeted elderly College Point homeowners over the weekend.

The burglaries seem to fit a pattern, according to Crime Prevention Officer Anthony LoVerme, who had advised attendees at the 109th Community Council’s March 10 meeting of a citywide string of such burglaries.

The burglaries both unfolded in the same manner, LoVerme said, with two Hispanic men in their 30s dressed as utility workers knocking on victims’ doors during afternoon hours and saying they were there to do work.

While one suspect distracted the victim, the other looted the home, stealing cash, electronics and jewelry, LoVerme´╗┐ said, adding there was no violence in either instance.

“We want to let everyone know that if they don’t have an appointment with a utility company, don’t open the door,” he said. “And if someone suspicious comes to their door, call 911 immediately.”

The first burglary occurred Friday at 1 p.m. at the home of a 86 year-old victim in the vicinity of Bayside Avenue and 32nd Avenue, LoVerme said, while the second took place Saturday at 2 p.m. at the home of a 79-year-old victim on 41st Avenue between Bowne Street and Parsons Boulevard.

LoVerme said police do not believe the burglaries are related to a similar incident in which two men dressed as utility workers attempted to burglarize a home last week on Taipei Court in College Point’s Edgewater Estates buildings. In that case, the men tied up the woman, left her on the first floor and then went to the second floor, police said. The woman escaped and ran into the street screaming for help, after which a neighbor called the police.´╗┐

Burglaries are on the rise in the 109th Precinct, having increased over 2009 levels by 8.6 percent this year to 126 as of April 11 from 116 by that date last year, according to NYPD statistics. But overall crime complaints are down 15.89 percent from 582 as of April 11, 2009, to 489 this year.

The only other crime category that has seen a jump over last year is grand larceny auto, which has increased by 16.2 percent from 74 by this point last year to 86 this year, according to the statistics.

Murders, rapes, robberies, felony assaults and standard grand larceny have all experienced double-digit percentage drops over last year’s figures.

The 109th serves the downtown Flushing, East Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace neighborhoods.

For more information, to request a free home security screening or to provide tips to police, call the crime prevention hotline at 718-321-2270.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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