114th Precinct tackles local crime spike
by Heather Senison
Mar 07, 2012 | 971 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kimberly Washington, a member of the midnight anti-crime unit, was one of the officers honored for her outstanding work in February.
Kimberly Washington, a member of the midnight anti-crime unit, was one of the officers honored for her outstanding work in February.
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Crime is up 20 percent in the 114th Precinct, according to Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi, but arrests are also on the rise.

“In the last 28 days we've seen it decreasing, so we are heading in the right direction,” he said at a 114th Precinct Community Council meeting last week.

Cirabisi said there is a 5 percent crime increase throughout the city right now, partially because the police force is short 7,000 officers and hasn't gotten any new officers in a year.

The spike is also fueled by the theft of electronic devices throughout the city, particularly of the iPhone, he said.

The precinct is experiencing an increase in burglaries, grand larcenies, with a slight spike in robberies, Cirabisi said, with cell phone robberies on the subway being one of the main areas.

“For those of you that ride the subway, you really want to keep that in mind,” he said. “When you're sitting in the seat or near the door, you really don't want to have your head buried in your phone as the doors are opening and closing.”

Perpetrators, often teenagers and repeat offenders, wait for the doors to start closing and then snatch electronics out of people's hands, he said.

However, he said the 114th Precinct is working closely with New York City Transit, which recently beefed up its own enforcement, and have made several arrests in the local transit lines.

“So we have made some progress,” Cirabisi said.

Burglaries usually involve perpetrators breaking into homes through fire escape windows, he said.

“Make sure you keep your fire escape windows locked and secured as best as possible.”

The spike in grand larcenies is due to an increase in car break-ins, Cirabisi said, which Astoria and Long Island City also experienced last summer.

Reports in the precinct show that expensive items, such as cell phones, laptops, iPads, wallets and wedding rings, are stolen out of people's cars.

In addition, while out shopping, people leave their purchases in their cars and head into the next store, and thieves take notice, break in and steal the items.

“You wouldn't believe what's left in the cars,” Cirabisi said. “You can prevent a lot of this just by keeping your personal items with you.”

On a positive note, however, Cirabisi said the Police Department's borough headquarters is providing extra resources, and the precinct is getting calls from people who see extra police foot traffic in the area.

Cirabisi honored two officers at the meeting for their outstanding work in the last month.

One was for catching a pair of transit thieves.

On Saturday, January 28, at 6:20 p.m. in the vicinity of Northern Boulevard and 36th Avenue, Winston McDonald, a member of the precinct's daytime anti-crime unit, received a call of a 26-year-old woman robbed at knife point.

The victim was exiting the subway when she was approached by two individuals who stopped her and robbed her of her purse and cell phone, Cirabisi said. She then watched the assailants run into a nearby location.

“She was able to give a description,” to the officers, Cirabisi said, and “McDonald and his partner entered the location, arrested them and recovered her property.”

The other officer honored at the meeting was Kimberly Washington, a member of the midnight anti-crime unit.

“She's out there all hours of the night keeping the 114th safe,” Cirabisi said.

On Sunday, February 2, at 4:15 a.m., Washington and her partner responded to a call of shots fired in the vicinity of 34th Avenue and Steinway Street.

“There was a fight that had taken place out on the street, where one individual stabbed another,” Cirabisi said. “That individual then pulled out a firearm and began firing at the individual that had stabbed him.”

The officers arrested both individuals at the scene and recovered a .380-caliber firearm.

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