April 27, 2016 By Christian Murray
The high number of burglaries has long plagued residents of Sunnyside/Woodside and Long Island City, but this year the number of reported incidents is down nearly 50 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
Captain John Travaglia, Commanding Officer of the 108 Precinct, said that there have been 33 burglaries reported in the precinct for the year through April 24, down from 60 for the same period a year ago.
“Burglaries are a crime I place a lot of focus on,” Travaglia said at a precinct meeting held at Sunnyside Community Services last night. “It is the one crime that is most likely to touch the general [population].”
Sunnyside and Woodside have been plagued by burglaries in recent years. Travaglia said the two neighborhoods are more vulnerable than Long Island City since the houses and apartment buildings are much older and tend to be easier to break into.
The new apartments in Long Island City don’t have fire escapes, have much heavier metal doors and sturdier window locks.
Travaglia attributes the decline, in part, to targeting the right people.
He said that the precinct was also able to match the DNA and other forensics with two burglars who were responsible for 10 break-ins in October and November.
He said he believes the perpetrators are out of state at the moment and he has notified authorities in those jurisdictions.
He also attributed the decline to a number of police units working well together. He said that there continues to be good coordination between the field intelligence officers, the detective squad, crime prevention division and the forensics team.
Crime throughout the precinct is down two percent year to date, with all the major crimes down except for robbery and grand larceny. There have also been two murders for the year to date, compared to one for the same period a year ago.
The number of reported robberies is up nearly 40 percent this year, with 39 reported for the year through April 24, compared to 28 for the same period a year ago.
However, the precinct was subject to a wave of robberies in the past month that were committed by one individual and a group.
A Woodside man allegedly committed about 20 robberies in Brooklyn and Queens over a 10 day period with five taking place in the 108 Precinct.
Meanwhile, three homeless people were responsible for five robberies in the vicinity of 61st Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
“They would push people to the ground late at night and steal their wallet or cell phone,” said Lt. Jon Cermeli, who handles special operations for the precinct.
The police got good video footage of the men from one of the robberies and when officers went to an abandoned house on 69th Street, off Roosevelt Avenue, to clear it of trespassers, they recognized the men. They were arrested.
“That house was in bad shape. They were living in terrible conditions,” Cermeli said.