The last 100th Precinct Community Council meeting of 2022 was full of tips on how the community can stay safe going into the new year and every day.
The meeting, held on Zoom, on Wednesday, December 28, kicked off with Community Council president Kathy Heavey providing updates on the Council’s movie night with Santa, acknowledging those affected by recent flooding and making mention of a recent local newspaper article recapping the previous meeting, which said the meeting mostly focused on issues from other agencies. “The council is here to listen to all concerns and issues and that involves more than one agency,” Heavey said in response to the article’s commentary.
Wednesday’s meeting was full of information from various members of the NYPD, including the 100th Precinct’s Crime Prevention Officer Jason Farrell, who provided tips on how to stay safe on New Year’s Eve. He then touched on the uptick in thefts from parked vehicles around the precinct and reminded people to keep their vehicles locked, park them in well-lit areas and to not leave valuables inside them.
Detective Spencer Strauss of the 100th Precinct, who focuses on burglaries and grand larcenies, then warned about a very serious issue involving check washing. He suggested that people who mail checks to pay bills or for other reasons, should only place this type of mail in mailboxes inside of the local post offices, as there has been an increase in people fishing through mailboxes in search of mail with checks or paperwork that includes personal information that can be used to steal identities and open things such as credit cards and even take out various loans in someone’s name.
Local resident Scott Ruscillo responded to this saying this very thing has been happening not only to himself, but to various neighbors in the residential building he manages in Rockaway Park.
Ruscillo says a group of young men have repeatedly targeted his building, using a federal mailbox key to open the mailboxes for the entire building, and taken all of the mail in the building. As a result, Ruscillo had two checks of his that were check washed, with one check for $190 being turned into a check for $19,000 and stealing that money from him. Three of his tenants also had issues with people opening credit cards in their name and other similar incidents after their mail was stolen. “I’m assuming this is happening in other parts of Rockaway,” Ruscillo said. “This is just one example of how bad things can be when someone steals your mail.”
Ruscillo said that while the 100th Precinct has been great about responding to the issue, the U.S. Postal Police have not contacted him or investigated this incident. Detective Strauss said he’s hopeful that the Postal Police will be cooperative in investigating this issue as they have more power in this federal crime.
In another fraud incident, Strauss informed people to be aware of their surroundings while using ATMs. There have been incidents of people looking over seniors’ shoulders while they’re at the ATM and taking note of their pin number. This information is then used to swipe their bank accounts. Since the thieves have the pin numbers, Strauss said it has been difficult for people to get their money back. “Once they have the pin to your account, banks are reluctant to hand you back the money,” Strauss said.
Next up, 100th Precinct community partner Danny Ruscillo made mention of the increase in crimes occurring on the beach blocks from Beach 113th to Beach 117th and suggested more be done to approach this. “I know you’re doing all you can, but it’s outrageous between the knives and beatings and domestic violence. I feel it’s only getting worse,” Ruscillo said. Heavey suggested that another meeting be held with the owners of the local SROs to try to address this. Later in the meeting, 100th Precinct Deputy Inspector Carlos Fabara said he would be open to meeting with them again, although similar meetings with the SRO owners have been done before.
Fabara then provided crime stat updates for the 28-day period. “For the 28-day period, we’re down in major crime 3.8%. It’s nice to get that little win. We put those little wins together and that’s how we make it through,” Fabara said. Murders, rapes and robberies remained flat, at 0 vs 0, 1 vs 1 and 1 vs 1 respectively. Robberies were down 1 vs 2 and felony assaults were down 5 vs 11. There was an increase in grand larceny auto with 3 vs 1 and grand larceny is up 14 vs 10.
Fabara said that the precinct has improved their response time by 12%, which was the largest reduction in response time for the borough. He said two gun arrests were made, related to a shooting on Beach 90th. There were no shootings in the 28-day period, and for the year, overall, the precinct was down with 7 vs 10 shootings last year. One shots fired incident, that happened three months prior, was reported in this last 28-day period, but there were no new incidents.
Fabara also announced some personnel changes. Three new officers are coming to the precinct. There have also been some promotions and shifts. Detective Briales of the Domestic Violence unit was promoted to second grade detective. Detective Connelly from the public safety team was promoted to detective specialist. A public safety officer was transferred to another unit and PO Laboda, an NCO for Sector Adam has been transferred and Fabara is in the process of replacing her.
Speaking more on vehicle break-ins, Fabara said there have been patterns, with eight hits between Beach 90th and 101st and others. One person doing these break-ins was arrested during a shooting/ robbery gun arrest. Fabara also made mention of the U-Haul that was recovered with packages stolen from the neighborhood. The Precinct delivered these packages on Christmas Day. No arrests have yet been made. Fabara said the precinct is continuing efforts to work with the community to improve the neighborhood overall. This includes starting to utilize the Neighbors app, operated by Ring, so the precinct can obtain Ring camera footage and information from people who utilize that service, to help solve crimes.
As the 100th Precinct Community Council goes on winter break, there will be no January meeting. The next meeting will be February 22.