2016-06-08 / Front Page

Crime, Robbery & Violent Crime Down In The 108th Pct.

By Thomas Cogan
At the 108th Police Precinct Community Council’s May meeting, on the last day of the month and following the long holiday weekend, Commander Captain John Travaglia began with a crime report that showed murder, rape and robbery down to nothing during the latest monthly report and other crimes mainly down too.  The exception was glaring:  grand larceny incidents went from six to 15, a 150 percent rise, and also showed upward trends in the monthly and year-to-date statistics.

 He talked about what to expect at the Fourth of July celebrations in Hunters Point beside the East River, now that the Macy’s fireworks barges are coming back.  The police officer of the month was a detective who worked his way through a case in which a woman was attacked with acid, though what he and fellow investigators finally found ran deeper than that.  From the audience came the complaint of a man who said he was being unfairly prevented from making an honest living.

Robbery was also down to nothing during the week ending May 29.  There were two felonious assaults, down from four during the same period of 2015 and two burglaries, down from three.  In addition to the large rise in grand larcenies (most of which probably involved ripping away mobile phones and purses on the streets or in subway trains and stations, the commander said) there was a smaller rise in grand larceny auto, to four from two during the week; but during the four-week period, car thefts were down from 10 to six and during the year to date were down from 53 to 32, or about minus 40 percent in both periods.

July 4 will be on a Monday, just as Memorial Day was, and in the city the climactic event will be the fireworks display that begins at nightfall.  Capt. Travaglia said that a square area, bordered by 44th Drive from 11th street to Newtown Creek and 11th Street from 44th Drive to the East River, will be “frozen” by the police in early evening and closed to entering or exiting traffic.  He said that those who want to have friends in to celebrate the event near or at the bank of the East River should have those friends arrive in the early afternoon.  He added that those who get their cars towed should telephone 311,   which will give them information about where they can go to pay the fines to retrieve them.

Cop of the Month was Detective Michael Grimm of the 108th Precinct.  He was assigned, along with three others (an NYPD homicide squad officer and an ADA and a forensic accountant from Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office) to investigate an acid attack on a woman in the middle of last August, outside a health care office on lower Skillman Avenue.  The attack mutilated the woman’s face.  As Detective Grimm and the team sifted evidence in their investigation they saw it led away from the incident to distant activities.  Capt. Travaglia said he would often ask Grimm how things were going and when the investigation might be concluded.  The detective would tell him it was complicated and try to promise a breakthrough by some future date that kept getting extended.  Looking back, the commander said the detective had to find not one needle in a haystack but 10. 

In early spring this year, D.A. Brown announced the arrest of two women and a man, on charges of embezzling $750,000 from Hospital Audiences Inc., or Healing Arts Initiative, a non-profit at 33-02 Skillman Avenue.  Of the three, a woman (a former accountant at the non-profit) and the man were charged with attacking the non-profit’s executive director outside the Skillman Avenue office on August 19 and splashing her face with acid—apparently in an attempt to divert any likely attention from the embezzlement.  The three were arraigned in a 65-count indictment.  Detective Grimm won his award for a job well done as part of the team that closed the case.

The man in the audience who said his trade was being restrained was a street vendor named Magdy Jahin.  He had been doing business selling food items in front of the Falchi Building, 31-00 47th Ave.  He said that the man running the building resented his presence and therefore took some planters, decorating space in front of the building, and put them where the vendor was used to working, thwarting any effort he might make to sell his wares.  Elise Goldin, an organizer from the street vendor project at the Urban Justice Center, spoke in Jahin’s behalf and said that the man from the building not only had taken the heavy planters beyond the building’s property line to drop them where the vendor normally works but also bolted them to the sidewalk.

In their new location, she said, “these planters are illegal.”  The captain conferred with the vendor and Urban Justice’s Goldin after the meeting.

The captain noted that school safety officers are taking over the ranks of school crossing guards, relieving the police of supervisory responsibility.  He believes the crossing guards are in good hands with the school safety officers, especially after attending a school safety officers’ ceremony recently at Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, where he said he was greatly impressed by their dedication.




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