Feb. 13, 2020 By Ryan Brady
The 109th Precinct in Flushing has not escaped the citywide trend of increasing crime.
Deputy Inspector Keith Shine, the commanding officer of the 109th Precinct, told the precinct’s Community Council on Wednesday night that major crime between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12 was up 12 percent compared to the same period last year. The increase represents about 25 additional crimes, he added.
The precinct covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace — and while crime was up it did not undergo a major spike like in other parts of the city.
Queens Patrol North, which incorporates eight of the 15 precincts in the borough, saw a 20 percent jump in major crime for the first 26 days of 2020, compared to the same period in 2017. Meanwhile, across the City, there was a 17 percent jump in major crime during the same period.
NYPD brass has called the increase a result of the sweeping bail reform laws passed in Albany last year, an argument that many activists and state lawmakers have pushed back on. The laws ended pretrial detention and cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, requiring judges to automatically release people charged with such crimes as they await trial.
The precinct has seen a large jump in the number of robberies, burglaries and grand larceny autos, Shine said. However, there has been a drop in some crime categories.
For instance, there were no murders in the precinct through Feb. 9, compared to one at this time last year. Additionally, there were 29 felony assaults reported between Jan. 1 and Feb. 9, compared to 36 for the same period in 2019.
The number of rapes reported was largely unchanged. Three rapes were reported this year between Jan. 1 and Feb. 9, compared to two during the same timeframe in 2019.
The precinct’s biggest problem has been with robberies. There were 34 robberies in the precinct through Feb. 9 this year, compared to just 13 for the same period last year.
Shine said many of the robberies have been taking place in downtown Flushing during the evening and nighttime hours.
“Electronic devices are the primary thing that these bad guys are looking for,” Shine said.
There has also seen been an increase in the number of burglaries in the 109th. There were 50 burglaries through Feb. 9, up from 40 for the same period last year.
Many have been commercial burglaries, Shine said.
So far this year, the 109th has seen 14 auto thefts, twice as many as this time last year. In half of those incidents, the car had been left running or the driver had left their key fob — a device that activates the ignition — inside the vehicle.
The automobiles were recovered in more than half of the thefts, Shine said. During one incident, a stolen car was tracked to the 107th Precinct, which covers Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Estates and Kew Gardens Hills.
“We found three individuals sleeping in the car,” he said.
Residents at the meeting brought up one issue that is a constant problem for the precinct: illegally parked commercial trucks. One man said the problem was especially bad on the northbound Whitestone Expressway service road at around 28th Road and by 14th Avenue in Whitestone.
The 109th officers explained that they are working to get these trucks removed, but the process takes time. Though summonses can be issued to the vehicles’ operators, it may take a month or two to actually get the vehicle removed.
The delay exists because space has to be available at the crowded NYPD tow pound. Additionally, the officers said, they have to wait for an NYPD tow truck capable of removing 18-wheelers to become available.