Be Aware: Crime And How To Avoid It

 Be Aware: Crime And How To Avoid It

Don’t do this

By Dan Guarino

It’s not the only thing that happens in Rockaway. But crime does happen here. Here are some tips from the NYPD’s 100th Precinct and others on how to avoid common crimes, and what to be aware of to keep crime from touching you.

According to the 100th Precinct’s CompStat report, which breaks down and compares reported crime rates over time, the good news is that major crimes like murders or rape have seen zero reported instances over 2023-2024. Comparing last year to the new one so far, crime categories like felonious assault have stayed even, and burglary is down as of now.

The 100th Precinct’s patrol area covers from Beach 59th Street west to the tip of Breezy Point, while the 101st Precinct covers from Beach 59th Street east to the Nassau County border.

“Our number one thing right now is GLA,” grand larceny auto, says Police Officer Victor Boamah, referring to thefts of vehicles. Boamah joined the NYPD about six years ago and has served as 100th Precinct Community Affairs Officer for the past three.

He says, often auto theft “is a crime of opportunity.” For instance, if a resident is just running into a store to pick up an item, food order etc., “they go inside and leave the car running with the key in. It only takes 30 seconds. A few seconds and the car is gone,” Officer Boamah said.

“Some people are just lurking, looking out for (where) somebody left their car running,” he said. Especially in parking lots or other convenience spots.

Even newer cars featuring key fobs, which have no key to be left in the ignition, are not safe. If the vehicle is left running, “even without the key fob, they can still move the car. They just can’t turn it off,” he said.

No matter how quick that errand or store stop might be, turn your car off completely and make sure to take the key or key fob with you.

Also, never leave valuables in the car. Not only when you are driving around, but also when you are parked in front of your home. Attractive items will attract thieves and special interest in your car. Carrying documents or other valuable items, even if they are concealed, is not a good idea. If your car is stolen, they’re gone too.

Kia and Hyundai brands have been particular targets over the past few years. Though the trend has diminished, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New York’s Southern District noted the so-called “Kia Challenge” on TikTok and YouTube, posting videos of how to steal them, accounted for about 977 such thefts in the first third of 2023 — a 660% jump from 2022’s start. Last June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the fad accounted for least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities nationwide. New York State and others have sued both companies for not installing industry standard electronic immobilizers, anti-theft devices, in their 2015-2019 models. Owners can call their dealers regarding possible system updates and upgrades.

Recently, the precinct organized a free Apple Airtag giveaway and will be doing more in the future. “If you have those kinds of cars,” Boamah says, “it’s a tracking device. You put it somewhere in your car. Somewhere that is not common, not visible. If somebody did steal your car, you can track it. It will tell you real-time as to the movement of the car. Where it’s going, where it’s parked. And that helps us so we can recover the vehicle.”

To help with recovery from property theft, he notes residents can also contact PO Jason Farrell, 718-318-4233, to arrange for their bikes, cars, computers, and other expensive items to be specially coded. “If it’s stolen, the etched code can identify and help return it,” Boamah said.

“Another thing we started,” Boamah explains, “is called NYPD E-commerce Exchange Zone” to protect consumers buying or selling items to persons they’ve connected with online. “This happened in Nassau County last week. A man goes on Facebook Marketplace, selling his $8,000 Rolex watch. A guy contacts him and wants to buy it. They meet up. Then the other man asks to try on the watch, then jumps in his car and takes off with the watch. The seller jumps on the car hood, but the thief did not stop going,” Boamah said.

“With the E-commerce Zone, the precinct is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can do the transaction right in front of the precinct,” he said. “We have cameras, and we have officers inside.”

“It’s better, it’s safer. Instead of doing it at say Green Acres or in front of some store. Or if you meet at your house or in a dead end, it could be worse.” If the person gives an excuse and says they can’t meet in front of the precinct, he says, “then you know it’s no good.”

In all situations it pays to be alert wherever you are. Theft might involve something as simple as leaving your wallet on a counter, your bag open or in a cart. Keep your valuables securely on you, and your eyes on them at all times. Be vigilant, because, as Boamah says, “People forget. We don’t shame the victim. We tell people to take extra precautions. And never carry big money amounts in your wallet. I don’t carry $500, $1000. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not safe.”

“If your credit card, your bank card, are stolen, you can call up and cancel those. You can’t cancel cash.” Also, never carry your social security card or your passport, which can be stolen for identity theft.

And “if you see something, say something. If something doesn’t look right, don’t think it’s silly,” Boamah said. “Call 911. If you feel it’s not safe to talk, now you can text 911.”

Be vigilant, be aware and be safe, Rockaway.

To arrange to have officers speak to groups about safety, crime, scams and prevention, call the 100th Precinct at 718-318-4200 or the 101st at 718-868-3400.

 Photo by Dan Guarino.

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