You are reading

Flushing business owners, community leaders express concerns over public safety amid local crime surge

Amid the holiday season and upcoming celebrations for the Lunar New Year, downtown Flushing business owners, community leaders and elected officials are expressing concerns over public safety, as crimes have surged in the area. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

Dec. 22, 2022 By Carlotta Mohamed

Amid the holiday season and upcoming celebrations for the Lunar New Year, downtown Flushing business owners, community leaders and elected officials are expressing concerns over public safety, as crimes have surged in the area within the past year.

It’s a pressing issue in the primarily Asian neighborhood that suffered from fear, stigma and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a wave of anti-Asian hate crime attacks and now an alarming uptick in robberies and burglaries occurring within the 109th Precinct.

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

The statistics

According to the NYPD CompStat, crime is up in nearly every category over the same period last year within the confines of the precinct.

The NYPD Office of the Deputy Commissioner & Public Information (DCPI) said that while major crime is up year-to-date within the 109th Precinct, grand larcenies are down significantly both week-to-date by 68% (22 vs. 69) and 73% (107 vs. 400) for the 28-day period. Additionally, arrests for major crimes are up year-to-date by 61% (808 vs. 501).

(Statistics via NYPD’s CompStat Book)

DCPI also reported that robbery arrests are up year-to-date by 67% (237 vs. 142); felony assault arrests are up 73% (271 vs. 157); and burglary arrests are up 43% (97 vs. 68). All arrests are up by 38% year-to-date (3,354 vs. 2,431). Hate crimes are also up year-to-date by 80% (9 vs. 5).

“Theft is a regular occurrence” 

In downtown Flushing along Main Street, a busy commercial transportation hub with small businesses and heavy foot traffic, a couple of flyers are posted on poles seeking individuals wanted for a crime.

At Daboo Eyewear, located at 41-01 Kissena Blvd., a black-and-white photo of two suspects who allegedly stole two expensive Cartier frames are taped on the glass display case. According to a sales associate, the incident happened three months ago. It’s not the first time people have entered the store and attempted to steal glasses, she said.

She says that the problem has become worse and although management reported the incident to police, the suspects have not yet been caught.

A few blocks down from Daboo Eyewear, management at GNC, a retail chain selling health- and sports-related vitamins, supplements and herbs, said that items have been stolen from their store as well, one too many times.

Thefts have occurred numerous times at GNC, a retail chain selling health- and sports-related vitamins, supplements and herbs, located on Main Street. (Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

Over at the Nike Clearance store, located inside the Shops at Skyview Mall at 40-24 College Point Blvd., theft is a regular occurrence, according to Fred, a security guard.

“Some we know about and some we don’t,” Fred said. “We’re not allowed to go after them, but if we spot them and say something, they’ll give it up. Some come in and don’t even mind us, and walk right back out. We can stop them with words, but touching them, we can’t do that.”

According to Fred, who has been working as a security guard at the store for about eight months, customers walk into the store and take off their sneakers and put on sneakers that are not tagged with a sensor.

“The sneakers are out in the open and you can just take what you want,” he said. “We usually find about three to four piles of sneakers. They switch up and walk out. That’s a regular occurrence.”

Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District (BID), said the organization is “very worried about the rising statistical number of crimes in the area,” especially now that downtown Flushing has one of the highest crime rates in NYC.

“We are concerned on how this crime rate will impact our retail market and Main Street business, as finance is a major sector in downtown Flushing,” Yu said.

According to Yu, the Flushing BID has compiled a list of activities that local businesses can use to determine when to call 311 and 911, which has been distributed to merchants throughout the district.

The BID is also planning to roll out a security camera program to deter criminals and criminal activities in the area. In regards to the shortage of police officers at the 109th Precinct, Yu said it’s very alarming.

“We have been hearing from local food establishments, especially bakeries, that there is too much petty theft and not enough officers patrolling the streets,” Yu said. “As we go into the peak of the holiday season, security is one of the most important aspects we are concerned about for the business district.”

Along Main Street most stores have posted 24-hour surveillance signs.

(Photo by Carlotta Mohamed)

“Public safety must be our No. 1 priority”

In response to the issue, Councilwoman Sandra Ung and her colleagues recently sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams calling on his administration to direct the NYPD to assign more police officers to the precinct. The letter was co-signed by Congresswoman Grace Meng, Borough President Donovan Richards, state Senators John Liu and Toby Stavisky, and Assembly members Nily Rozic, Ed Braunstein and Ron Kim — all representatives of the community.

“Our community is still reeling from the surge in anti-Asian hate crimes,” the letter reads. “Throughout the pandemic, friends and neighbors were afraid to let their parents walk outside. Now they open the papers on a daily basis to see a surge in violent crimes concentrated in Flushing. In order to ensure our city remains on the path toward recovery, and especially with the holiday season around the corner, we must tackle this crime wave head on.”

During a meeting with Ung and Richards, Deputy Inspector Louron Hall shared that the precinct is down by 21 police officers.

“If you also take into consideration restricted-duty and temporary transfers, the precinct has 42 less officers on patrol,” Ung said.

At 13.5 square miles, the 109th Precinct is one of the largest in the city. Complicating matters is that the precinct comprises a number of different neighborhoods that all present their own unique policing challenges, according to the letter.

Ung said that the type of policing required in the bustling district is different from policing required in largely residential neighborhoods like Whitestone, making the allocation of the precinct’s diminished resources even more complicated. The councilwoman added that while her constituents are thankful and appreciative of the eight probationary officers that are part of a field training unit recently assigned to foot patrol the area, more needs to be done.

“Recently, the Department of Justice announced nearly $140 million in additional funding for law enforcement hirings to help advance community policing. Out of this total fund, New York City’s Police Department received over $8 million,” Ung said in the letter.

The lawmakers are requesting NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell to “give serious consideration” to assigning some of the new police officers to the precinct and begin refilling its depleted ranks. They’re also requesting a special task force to support the precinct at least through the end of Lunar New Year, as there is likely to be an increase in thefts during that time period.

In her first State of the District Address to the community on Dec. 14 at the Flushing Glow Community Center, Ung reiterated that public safety must be their No. 1 priority.

“I will be working closely with the mayor’s office to ensure we get the resources we need to keep our families safe,” Ung said.
“We’ll always be there for all of our communities”

On Dec. 15, new NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, along with NYPD officials and NYC Department of Small Business Services Kevin Kim, met with community members in Flushing to discuss the increase in robberies and other crimes in the area.

According to Maddrey, the NYPD is working closely together to make sure they increase safety, adding that “people’s quality of life increases, and that people are able to shop this holiday season and every day of the year, feeling safe and secure in their neighborhoods.”

Maddrey had also promised to send extra police officers to aid the Flushing community.

“We love this community,” Maddrey said. “When they call and say we need a little help, we’ll be here. We’ll always be there for all our communities.”

In a statement to QNS, a spokesperson from DCPI said the NYPD continues to focus on its mission of public safety for all New Yorkers.

“With its Neighborhood Safety Teams, its intelligence-driven approach to long-term investigations, and its Neighborhood Policing philosophy, the NYPD is building strong relationships in communities across the city,” the spokesperson said.

This story first appeared on

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Queens Botanical Garden hosts Lunar New Year celebration with globally beloved Miffy

About 4,200 people joined the world-renowned beloved rabbit Miffy to ring in the Year of the Rabbit at Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration included a visit from Councilman Shekar Krishnan, who gave remarks, followed by a program of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed a lion dance performance, zodiac crafts, demonstrations, lucky plant sales and more. Miffy was in attendance for photos, story time and to greet children throughout the event.

Mets owner Steve Cohen hosts second community visioning session regarding development of area around Citi Field

Hundreds of community residents and leaders gathered at the Piazza Club inside Citi Field to participate in a visioning session regarding the development of a nearby 50-acre lot. This marked the second visioning session New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has hosted at Citi Field in January as he attempts to collect as much community feedback regarding the development as possible.

Attendees of the visioning session went to a series of interactive stations, sharing what mattered most to them when it came to improving the area around Citi Field, including preferred forms of year-round entertainment, ability to access different forms of transportation and attainable local jobs and training. Information and input was collected from the community in how they would like to see the lot utilized. A common theme among many of those who took part in the visioning session was the desire to see something built there that would bring a lot of economic opportunity to the community and provide year-round entertainment.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens doctor aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health

With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, a cardiologist from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital spoke with QNS about the importance of heart health for women.

According to attending cardiologist Dr. Joanna Troulakis, approximately 400,000 women die as a result of cardiovascular diseases each year in the United States. She noted that women have suffered more cardiovascular disease deaths than men in recent years. When it comes to heart attacks, the mortality rate for women is higher than men.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.