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Cop snags suspected burglar

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His mother would be so proud.

An off-duty NYPD detective who was visiting his mom on the border of Maspeth and Elmhurst caught a suspected serial burglar in the act on Memorial Day.

The detective was on 57th Avenue near 74th Street May 31 at around 5:30 p.m. and became suspicious of two men carrying large bags out of a neighboring house.

“A squad car might have driven by and thought they were moving,” said Richard Napolitano, deputy inspector of the 110th Precinct, who spoke at a civic meeting Monday night.

But the off-duty officer confronted the men, chased them down and held one of them until officers from the 104th Precinct arrived.

The man, whose name was not released, is suspected in a recent string of burglaries in both precincts, Napolitano said.

Prior to the man’s arrest, the 110th Precinct reported 12 burglaries, but after he was taken into custody, officers reported only three.

The same man, whom Napolitano described as having “a long rap sheet,” is also suspected of burglarizing several apartments in a building where he served as the superintendent in late April.

Then in mid-May, burglaries started to spike along 57th Avenue in the 110th.

First, three Ankener Avenue apartments in the same multi-family dwelling were burglarized, Napolitano said.

Next, someone broke into two houses near 57th Avenue at Van Horn and Seabury streets.

All the crimes were committed in the same fashion, Napolitano said.

That area of the 110th Precinct shares a border with both the 104th and 108th precincts, which is why many residents of Elmhurst and Maspeth take it upon themselves to watch crime.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of Citizens of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, the civic which held the Monday night meeting, said her job is to get the word out to residents and protect every part of her neighborhood, regardless of precinct.

“My job is to let the community know what is going on,” she said after the meeting, “We should be policing ourselves.”

Part of the reason Daraio and others in the civic take their duties seriously is that she knows each precinct has a high priority area and the low-crime areas of Elmhurst and Maspeth do not usually top the list.

But crime does not stop at invisible boundaries, she said.

“A lot of the crimes carry across the border,” she said.

A case in point is the man suspected of serial burglary. While five residences were hit in the 110th Precinct, the man was caught in the 104th Precinct.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 10:50 am, October 12, 2011
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