By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police are warning of an uptick in scams, which is likely due to the fact that it’s still tax season, including general email scams in which victims are tricked into thinking friends and family need fast cash to get out of trouble.
There’s also been a rash of office burglaries and a spike in assaults on cops.
The stats were reported by the commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney at the most recent precinct community council meeting last Tuesday.
“Any emails you get from people asking for money, contact the person first,” he said. “Someone could have stolen their information so reach out to them before you send them any money.”
He added that recent thefts at local gyms have also contributed to a precinct-wide spike in grand larceny, partially because victims aren’t putting locks on their lockers while working out. This has also been an issue for car break-ins.
“It isn’t specific to one area but there have been some around the hospitals, where doctors and nurses are leaving bags in their car and leaving the cars unlocked,” he said.
As in previous months, there have also been a number of thefts in places like Starbucks where patrons leave their bags unattended for a matter of seconds and thieves are just waiting for the moment unsuspecting victims walk away from their property.
“If you leave your bag unattended, people are quick,” he said. “You walk away for five seconds, I guarantee it won’t be there when you get back.”
Timoney also reported that although crime is down for the year and in the last 28 day period at the 13th Precinct, the number of felony assaults has gone up.
He explained that the spike in assaults is due to attacks on police, corrections officers and workers in the psychiatric ward and not due to random attacks on the street.
He added that burglaries are down for the first time this year, but there has been a spike in commercial burglaries on the West Side. He urged businesses to be wary of any people in the building who don’t belong and to call the police if there is anyone suspicious wandering around. He then gave an example of what not to do when discussing one recent burglary.
“There was an incident where a guy was hiding in a closet in an office and a security guard found him, but the guy said he was looking for somewhere to charge his phone,” Timoney said. “The security guard said, ‘here, let me show you where you can charge it,’ instead of calling us. And he let the guy go back upstairs where he went back into the closet, waited for the rest of the employees to leave and ended up stealing eight laptops.”
Later at the meeting, Stuyvesant Town resident Jo-Ann Polise, who has been the lead coordinator for the annual National Night Out Against Crime summer event for a number of years, announced that she wants to “pass the baton” for organizing the event to the next generation.
“Have you heard that phrase ‘bed in a bag’? This is my ‘bed in a bag,” she said at the meeting, holding up a big white binder. “Last time I looked, the birthdays aren’t going down and if we want this event to continue, it’s time to pass it on.” She noted that she isn’t retiring from organizing the event because it’s a lot of work, saying it’s “the simplest thing you’ll ever do.”
She said that she is planning to organize the event this year and have someone willing to take it over help out so they’ll be prepared to fully take over next year.
“We need some people to step up and get kids involved,” she said. “We want people to be aware that this is a national event and I’ve been doing it for many years. It’s like taking a block party and putting it in that playground.”