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.
Felony assaults have seen the biggest increases but Timoney noted that 11 of the 15 incidents have arrests attached to them, and many of the incidents are out of Bellevue and Beth Israel, with Emergency Medical Service workers and Department of Homeless Services police being the victims. The spike doesn’t reflect an increase in random street assaults, Timoney said, adding that there was one domestic violence incident and another dispute over a parking spot that ended violently but there were arrests in both cases.
Last month’s meeting, which was held at a bigger venue to accommodate the expected crowd, focused mainly on the 30th Street men’s shelter and the rape in the bar nearby and while this month’s meeting was back at the precinct with its usual smaller attendance, DHS representative Matt Borden returned to respond to additional questions about sex offenders in the shelter.
One resident expressed concerns that all of the sex offenders who had been housed at 30th Street had been moved to another shelter in Greenpoint, citing a story at the end of April that was published in the New York Post.
“We can’t reveal where people are moved to but none were moved to the shelter in Greenpoint,” Borden assured the residents.
He also reiterated what he explained in the previous meeting about how DHS will handle sex offenders at the shelter moving forward. He said that DHS has always been in compliance in terms of which sex offenders were allowed to stay in the shelter but noted that the city is currently working on a plan so that no sex offenders will live in the shelter in the future. Residents worry about the shelter because of its proximity to a number of neighborhood schools but technically, the shelter is in compliance if sex offenders live there, as long as they are not on parole or probation.
Because the shelter is the only intake center in the city, Borden noted that there will be sex offenders moving through the shelter but that as soon as they’re through that part of the process, they will be moved somewhere else.
The issue of unsafe cycling and e-bikes frequently comes up at the meetings and a resident of Stuyvesant Town who regularly attends the meetings said that he has particular concerns about the speed of delivery bikes around the side roads near his building at 21 Stuyvesant Oval.
“I’ve seen near misses all the time,” he said. “That there hasn’t been a body on one of those roads is unbelievable.”
Executive Officer Paul Zangrilli, also new to the precinct but who introduced himself to the community when he filled in for Timoney at the previous meeting, said that cops have given out 56 summonses to bikes in the last month and have been focusing specifically on e-bikes operating on the sidewalks.
He added that a number of those summonses were actually in and around Stuyvesant Town and noted that if residents wanted to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to mention businesses that are particularly aggressive on these bikes, they will investigate.
At the beginning of the meeting when the community council would usually honor a Cop of the Month, Detective Ray Dorrian said that in lieu of that, they would instead hold a moment of silence in honor of 25-year-old officer Brian Moore, who was shot in the head on Saturday while on duty and died on Monday afternoon.
The community council has rescheduled the monthly meetings to be on the first Tuesday of the month because the NYPD has Timoney taking a police management course through Columbia in Westchester County on the third Tuesday of the month, which is usually the date for the meeting.
The next meeting will be held on June 2 and there will be no meeting in July or August.