A neighborhood watch group met last Thursday to discuss automobile-related crime patterns in the 104th Precinct and listened to the Queens district attorney swear in new board members.
The Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol convened at Saint Pancras Catholic School, at 68-20 Myrtle Ave., and some members mentioned a rash of vehicular vandalism along Butler Avenue.
“Never, in the whole time I lived in Ridgewood, have I seen it like this,” said Lou Kirchgessner, a past president of the patrol.
In one night, vandals broke the windows of 11 cars along the avenue and the next night eight more windows were broken, he said.
Butler Avenue is only about a block long, but runs primarily along garages and the backs of houses, which means it is largely unwatched. Kirtchgessner and other members of the patrol said the avenue’s secluded nature might contribute to the frequency of the incidents there.
“Butler Avenue is one of the biggest crime sections in all of Ridgewood,” Kirchgessner said.
The 104th Precinct confirmed that a number of cars were broken into on the avenue and said police had arrested a suspect in connection with a separate vandalism spate.
Allan Vega, 46, was arrested twice Monday and charged with breaking into vehicles on Grove and later Menahan streets, police said. Vega allegedly had three stolen iPods and three stolen GPS devices along with burglary tools and nearly $60 on him when arrested, police said.
Vega has been charged with similar offenses numerous times this year, police said, although he is not necessarily the same suspect who bashed the windows along Butler Avenue.
In other sections of the precinct, thieves have been stealing the wheels off automobiles, another member of the patrol said.
“It’s a big problem,” said Vincent Arcuri, who helped found GCOP and is the chairman of Community Board 5. “It’s happening all over the precinct.”
Police also confirmed that wheels had been removed off of several cars in the area.
Officers from the 104th Precinct did not attend the meeting, but Arcuri said Capt. Michael Cody, commanding officer of the precinct, advised residents to park close to curbs and turn wheels inward to help prevent the thefts.
Many of the members who sat in the basement were wearing official-looking, white button-up shirts complete with patches.
And the professionalism of the group was not solely confined to garb, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who stopped by to swear in new members of the board.
“I don’t know of another group that is as effective,” Brown said in an interview following the ceremony. “They help out considerably as far as being the eyes and ears of the police.”
Members of the patrol keep an eye out in the borough and inform police about crimes. They also direct traffic for the precinct for special events and even kept a round-the-clock vigil at the station house after the 9/11 attacks.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community News Group
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