Oct. 1, 2015 By Christian Murray
While crime continues to fall throughout Sunnyside/Woodside and Long Island City, police warn that there has been an uptick in stolen motorcycles in Hunters Point and several rental scams throughout western Queens.
Captain John Travaglia, the commanding officer of the 108 police precinct, said that there have been 11 motorcycles stolen in Hunters Point since June 1.
He said that many of the victims live in apartment buildings and leave their motorbikes on the street without locking them up with a chain or other device. He said that many don’t check up on them for days and then find them gone.
He said the perpetrators come in vans—often with two or more occupants—and then just pick them up and drive off. “The whole process takes 30 to 40 seconds,” Travaglia said.
He said that the thieves tend to leave those motorbikes that are locked up with a chain or other device alone.
Travaglia said that the precinct has also been dealing with an increase in the number of rental scams.
He said that there have been a number of bogus real estate operators who have been placing ads on Craigslist and then convincing apartment seekers to provide them with rent and two-month’s security deposit in advance—prior to seeing the apartment.
Come apartment showing time, the bogus real estate agent cancels the appointment and is never to be seen again.
Several business owners looking for commercial space were scammed this way when a fake real estate operator who claimed to have an office in Sunnyside would place ads and then convince budding entrepreneurs to fill out forms (with personal information) and send a check for a security deposit and rent.
The victims would later go to the office of the supposed real estate agent to follow up, only to find an empty building.
In the most recent case, the victim wrote out two checks totaling more than $5,000 for a retail space.
This scenario has happened several times—concerning the fake Sunnyside broker—between July 1 and Sept 21, according to police.
There have been similar cases involving apartments in recent times; however, a police spokesman did not want to discuss those cases since they are being investigated.
Travaglia said that consumers should only use bona fide real estate agents who have an office and a license number. “I can’t stress it enough, and you shouldn’t be paying them in advance.”
“If something smells funny it is funny,” he said.
These cases come at a time when the number or reported crimes in the precinct continues to decline markedly.
For the year through Sept. 27, the number or reported crimes is down 20 percent, compared to the same period in 2014. The number of reported murders, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries and grand larcenies are down significantly.
Burglaries, which have in the past been a problem for the precinct in the past, are down 22 percent year-to-date.
The only increase is in the number or reported rapes, which have gone up from 11 at this point last year to 13.