Captain Brendan Timoney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Captain Brendan Timoney, who hosted his first community council meeting as the new commanding officer of the 13th Precinct on Tuesday, told residents that the neighborhood is still having some of the same old problems with grand larceny.
That crime is up by about 6.7 percent in the last month and Timoney noted that the precinct is specifically tracking a pattern in which a black man on a bicycle seems to be targeting women distracted by their smart phones. So far, 13 women have been victims of the thief, who rides on the sidewalk behind them and grabs their phone while they’re not paying attention. Four of them had their purses stolen but Timoney said that the rest had their phones snatched right out of their hands and he added that with some of the incidents, there is video surveillance available that shows the women’s inattention to who and what is around them.
“Know your surroundings,” advised Timoney, who was transferred to the 13th Precinct seven weeks ago. “Many of them had their heads buried in the phone and didn’t even see the guy coming.”
While the phone and purse snatchings contributed to the increases, Timoney said that theft of unattended items also continues to be a problem for the precinct, where bar and restaurant goers are leaving their bags and phones behind while they go to get a drink.
“Get the word out to your friends to keep your property in your sights at all times,” he advised.
In addition to grand larceny, Timoney said that crime is currently experiencing a spike in the 13th Precinct and was up slightly overall in the last month.
For tenants, who’d been facing an uphill battle in Albany with the June expiration of the rent laws, the second arrest of a major Albany power player this year — Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos — and strong statements made by Mayor Bill de Blasio this week in favor of strengthening the rent laws, may prove to be helpful when negotiations begin. While exactly how much it may help is still anyone’s guess, Mike McKee, treasurer of TenantsPAC, expressed optimism at both turns of events.
On Monday, after Skelos and his son Adam were arrested on federal charges of bribery and extortion, McKee said, “I think Skelos’ arrest helps us somewhat. It’s not a game changer. It helps that the Senate leadership is in a state of disarray.”
Skelos has insisted he is innocent and plans to fight the charges. But, said McKee, it also helps to have the support of the mayor.
On Tuesday, de Blasio announced in detailed statements that he wanted to end vacancy decontrol, end vacancy bonuses and make major capital improvement (MCI) and individual apartment improvement (IAI) rent increases temporary.
Specifically, he suggested that costs related to increased services or improvements to individual apartments be spread over 10 years, while building-wide or system improvements could be spread over seven years. Long-term rent would be unaffected, and would reset after the improvements have been paid.