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NYPD’s 111th Precinct touts reduced crime, DA promotes retail theft program during Bayside meeting

Oct. 9, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan

At the NYPD’s 111th Precinct community council meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5, concerned residents of northeast Queens filled up the precinct’s muster room in Bayside.

Several dozen attendees gathered to hear about how crime in their area is trending and learn about new public safety programs that the NYPD is carrying out. They also had the opportunity to ask officers questions and several voiced their concerns in the community.

Precinct Capt. Richard A. Porto, who stepped into the role last November, led the meeting and discussed crime statistics categorically. Two representatives from the Queens District Attorney’s office were also present to promote the new Merchants Trespass Program in an effort to thwart retail theft. Patrol Officer Nicholas Basilone was also named “Cop of the Month” for his handling of an arrest. 

The precinct was receiving reports of a distraught individual at St. Mary’s Hospital who was making “very threatening remarks” and “terroristic threats” along the lines of threatening to carry out a mass shooting. According to police, the man had a family member in the hospital, which likely contributed to his distressed state. Porto commended Officer Basalone for an “outstanding job” in tracking the man down and arresting him without incident. 

NYPD Police Officer Basilone was commended for his patrol work in the field. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

Porto conveyed the current crime rates across the precinct, compared to the end of 2022. Overall crime was up 52.3% at the end of last year but is now up by just 8.2% with just a few months left in the year. He attributed the decrease to the efforts of his team, as well as his take over of the precinct last November.

Robberies were up 186% at the end of 2022 and are now down 23%, while felony assaults were up 27% and are now up just over 1%. 

The decrease in grand larcenies, which were up 65.2% and are now up by 1%, was also celebrated. Porto attributes the decline to catalytic converter theft slowing down in the area, but insists that it is still a rampant issue.  

“This is a problem plaguing the entire city. It’s plaguing the entire borough and is plaguing this precinct. That’s our crime-driver.” said Porto, who added that Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Dodge, Ford and motorcycles — in that order — were the most common types of vehicles to be reported stolen. 

He also attributed the decrease in robberies and violent crime to his young officers patrolling schools, engaging with school safety officers, school staff and youth in the community.

Community members turned out for the NYPD meeting. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

“This is not a violence-driven command — thank goodness, knock wood on that. This is a property-driven command,” said Porto. 

While residential burglaries are down from last year, commercial truck burglaries are on the rise. He still provided a range of safety tips to reduce the chance of robbery and encouraged attendees to relay them to other members of the community.

Keep your doors and windows locked, including the side and rear access points. And don’t leave a ladder or anything that can be used as a stepping stool around to make it easier for someone to break in. Don’t keep any valuables in your car, including the key fob, your wallet or any of the gifts you’ll be purchasing in the upcoming holiday season. 

The Merchant’s Trespass Program seeks to add another layer to deter thieves from targeting local businesses. Now if someone robs a store, they will be arrested the first time around and will also be served with a trespass notice notifying them that they will be arrested just for stepping through the door of that store next time. 

Representatives from the Queens District Attorney’s office promoted a new program to combat retail theft. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

So far, 266 stores in Queens have registered. Trespass notices were served to 152 individuals who committed theft at the participating stores. Only 14 of those individuals returned to the stores and were arrested again. 

“The results have been spectacular, better than we ever imagined,” said Joshua Mandel, who spearheaded the program. “We didn’t have the retail soft problem back then that we’re encountering now and we’re continuing to fight now.”

Given the commonality of recidivism, especially at retail stores, the DA’s office proudly shared the low number of thieves who returned. And in the 111th Precinct, particularly, no individuals who were served a trespass notice have returned to the stores.

“You’d be surprised by how many people go back to the same location, whether it’s Home Depot, or a mom and pop shop,” added Mandel. ”Most of the people who’ve been arrested on this program have been arrested within a week of being served notice.”

The next community council meeting will be on Thursday, Nov. 9. 

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