By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Multiple officers of the 13th precinct were honored with the Cop of the Month award at the most recent Community Council meeting this past Tuesday for catching a pair of teenagers responsible for late-night burglaries throughout the city and others wanted for various shoplifting incidents.
The officers on the night tour who were honored at the meeting included Sergeant Isaac Acevedo and police officers William Blum, Nicholas Clemente, John McCormick, Charles Morro and Robert Rufrano. The officers who work on the day tour who were honored were Lieutenant James Grillo, who will also be retiring soon, Sergeant Edward Faini and police officers Brendan Bellew, Danny Bermeo, Mahmoud Khaled, Thomas Knudsen, Joseph Orlando and Sutcliff Rattan.
Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman said that officers who work in the overnight hours spotted the suspects wanted for the burglaries, recognized because they had been caught on surveillance footage in previous incidents, but knew that the District Attorney’s office wouldn’t charge them just based on previous burglaries, so they had to catch them in the act.
“They followed them up Lexington Avenue into the 17th precinct and caught them on a live burg, and that closed out 35 burglaries citywide,” Hellman said.
As Hellman has noted in previous meetings, he said this week that grand larcenies have been a problem for the neighborhood, accounting for about 70% of the crime, and he said that about 40% of those incidents are related to shoplifting. The additional officers who were honored at the meeting this week had recently caught multiple teenagers who had been working in a group to steal from Sephora stores and other businesses throughout the city.
“These groups of kids are going into the high-end stores, smashing and grabbing,” he said. “That doesn’t sound so bad but the kids we apprehended are gang members from the Bronx. They are troubled and we should help them but they do have significant rap sheets at a young age.”
Hellman said that some of the suspects involved in the shoplifting incidents were not minors but many of the individuals involved in those crimes, in addition to burglaries throughout the city, are juveniles who are 15 and younger.
Hellman and traffic safety officer Ming Cheung also provided updates at the recent meeting on the status of a man who was hit by a truck on East 14th Street over the weekend, noting that the victim is currently in critical condition. Cheung said that the truck was going west on East 14th Street with a green light when the 50-year-old man crossed mid-block against the pedestrian signal. Police determined that the man did not look before crossing the street and Hellman said that the victim was struck by the vehicle’s mirror. The incident occurred around 5 p.m. last Saturday and Cheung said that since the collision happened, Neighborhood Coordination Officers from the precinct have been in Union Square during critical hours conducting traffic enforcement and educating pedestrians.
The precinct’s community council meeting normally meets on the third Tuesday of the month but met early in March because the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled that day and Hellman said that he has to be there since, as of now, the parade hasn’t been canceled due to concerns about coronavirus, and he had no one else to fill in for the meeting.