Cops warn of spike in scams, larcenies: Crime down overall, but scam calls, pick-pocketings and assaults are up

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Deputy Inspector Dave Ehrenberg at the 13th Precinct (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

At the 13th Precinct Community Council’s most recent monthly meeting this past Tuesday, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg told residents about the slight decrease in overall crime for the area in the last month, although there has been a spike in larcenies.

The number of grand larcenies jumped by 7.7 percent in the last month, although Ehrenberg noted that the precinct is still down 4.9 percent for the year. He said that there has been an increase in pickpockets, as well as an increase in cons.

“There’s a new scam that criminals have been trying, where they use information about people’s family and medical conditions,” the commanding officer said. “There have been phone calls from people that the victims know.”

He noted that the phone calls are not actually from people known to the victim but are criminals who have managed to fake a phone number and manipulate the caller ID.

Ehrenberg added that there has also been an increase in ransom call scams, where criminals will call a victim and demand money for a ransom, but he noted that this was a known scam and that anyone receiving such a call should notify 911 immediately.

The commanding officer also noted that there has been a specific increase in grand larcenies of unattended property in restaurants and despite the recent arrest of suspects thought to be responsible for some of these crimes, he warned residents not to be careless with their property while sitting in restaurants in the neighborhood, specifically in eating establishments around Union Square.

“You have to be aware of your personal belongings,” he said.

There has also been an increase in murder for the precinct, which Ehrenberg said was due to the shooting that took place at Home Depot at the end of January ahead of the season’s first big snow storm. A former employee had gone in to confront one of the store managers, shot him and ultimately shot himself.

Inspector Ehrenberg said that the scene was especially chaotic because the store was so busy with people who were preparing for the snow, but commended both civilians and officers for their quick response. Before police arrived, witnesses had taken it upon themselves to perform CPR on the shooting victim and police continued until EMS arrived.

Felony assaults also increased 18.2 percent in the past month, and Inspector Ehrenberg said this was especially notable because half of these incidents were domestic violence. In two of the cases, Ehrenberg said that the suspects had been involved in domestic violence previously with other partners. He added that the increases were also due to an assault on a lieutenant and on nurses at Bellevue who were assaulted while attending to patients.

Robberies were down 14.3 percent for the precinct in the last month and burglaries were down 63 percent.

Inspector Ehrenberg honored the Cop of the Month from both last month and this month, since the officer last month wasn’t able to attend the meeting to be recognized for his work. Officer Phil McGovern was given the award for January for work that he did last December when a child was choking at Blue Smoke on East 27th Street. He was able to dislodge what was blocking the child’s airway before the EMS arrived by using the version of the Heimlich maneuver that is performed on children.

The commanding officer noted that some of the bad press the police department has been receiving in the last few months has overshadowed the officers who have been working hard, so he wanted to acknowledge the good work that McGovern had done.

Officer Jason Negron was given the honor for this month for making an arrest on a suspect who had been noted on a “wanted” poster and was responsible for a number of grand larcenies in various precincts throughout the city.

Detective Ray Dorrian announced at the meeting that the Citizens Police Academy would be starting up soon and the precinct is now accepting applications. He noted that anyone interested in the program can get an application by contacting him at (212) 477-7427.

Community Council President Frank Scala encouraged those at the meeting to take the course, saying that he had taken it before and had found it very useful.

“For that week you are a police officer and you learn a lot of things in it,” he said.

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