Tag Archives: 109th precinct

Recent phone scam preys on elderly: 109th Precinct

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

The 109th Precinct has taken to social media to warn the community about a phone scam which has successfully swindled cash out of three elderly local victims.

Scammers have been placing calls to the home phone numbers of elderly victims in the past week, according to a statement on the 109th Precinct Community Council Facebook page.

Citing information provided by Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, the 109th Precinct commanding officer, the statement indicated that callers trick victims into believing that one of their grandchildren has been arrested in the Dominican Republic. The scammers then instruct the elder family member to wire thousands in cash as purported bail money to ensure their release from jail.

“The best way to combat this scam is simply to hang up and then call your relative to verify that they are OK,” the statement read. “NEVER send money over the phone.”

The thieves make the scam more believable by providing victims with real names and birthdates of all the parties involved.

Three people in the 109th Precinct—which includes downtown Flushing and east Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace—have fallen prey to these scams thus far, according to the post.


Pols, Flushing residents rally for safety at high traffic intersection

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Ron Kim

Elected officials and Flushing residents rallied on Tuesday for improved safety measures at a College Point Boulevard intersection after a recent fatal hit-and-run.

Mariano Contreras, 41, was found unconscious and unresponsive after being struck by a northbound black SUV early Sunday morning on College Point Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. The driver fled the scene and Contreras was pronounced dead at NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital.

The rally to highlight the safety problems of the intersection included Assemblyman Ron Kim, Councilman Peter Koo, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, state Senator Michael Gianaris, the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub Business Improvement District and civic safety group Make Queens Safer.

According to the mayor’s Vision Zero website, there have been 11 injuries caused by traffic in the high-density area as of Aug. 31.

Assemblyman Kim is calling for a pedestrian bridge over the intersection to improve the dangerous conditions. He said that with new condos and hotels coming to the region, more long-term solutions had to be found to deal with heavy traffic.

“The hit-and-run incident over the weekend is a horrible tragedy and wake-up call for all of us,” Kim said. “If you walk around the intersections of College Point and Roosevelt Avenue, you are constantly playing chicken with speeding vehicles.”

Councilman Koo said that the rapid growth of downtown Flushing must be balanced with improved safeguards against traffic accidents.

“The 109th Police Precinct and Related Companies have both worked to provide traffic safety agents during periods of high traffic at this intersection,” Koo said, “and it must be the responsibility of the City of New York to ensure future development does not turn this heavily traveled roadway into a safety hazard.”

Leola Wayne, president of the Bland Houses Tenant Association, cautioned both pedestrians and drivers in Flushing to stay vigilant when commuting and obey traffic laws.

“This young man could have been any of the senior citizens or families with young children from our community who cross this street every day,” Wayne said.


Police release video of car involved in College Point Boulevard hit-and-run

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD has released a video of the moment an SUV strikes a Corona man on College Point Boulevard, in hopes of identifying and locating those responsible for the fatal hit-and-run.

According to police, on Oct. 4 at about 1:09 a.m. officers out of the 109th Precinct responded to a call about a pedestrian struck at 40-05 College Point Blvd. in Flushing. Upon arriving, cops found 41-year-old Mariano Contreras unconscious and unresponsive in the street.

Emergency personnel responded to the scene and transported Contreras to New York Hospital of Queens, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigation found that Contreras had been trying to cross College Point Boulevard from east to west, mid-block, outside of any marked crosswalks, police said. He entered the northbound lane when he was struck by the vehicle and then thrown to the pavement.

The vehicle fled the scene northbound on the boulevard.

The video released by police on Tuesday shows the moment the 2014/2015 dark-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee runs into Contreras and flees the scene.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.


Family fun day draws 5,000 to Whitestone park

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos, Alfredo Centola and We Love Whitestone

Saturday was a fun day taken to another level in Whitestone.

More than 5,000 people were packed into Francis Lewis Park on Saturday for the 109th Precinct’s second annual Whitestone Family Fun Day.

The festival—co-sponsored by the We Love Whitestone civic group—was fun for all ages but particularly geared toward the youngest members of the community.

Activities included face painting, an on-site balloon artist, two inflatable bouncy houses, fresh cotton candy, a DJ and an NYPD rock wall. The biggest attractions of the day were the pony ride feature and an on-site pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting activities. Additionally, Mets mascot Mr. Met himself made an appearance.

Precinct Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said that drawing out so many people effectively gained positive public exposure for the police department. It was the first opportunity to meet local police officers for many attendees, and the station aims to facilitate especially strong relationships with young people to teach them to feel safe in the hands of law enforcement.

“These events are all about community-police partnerships and relationships,” Voskerichian said. “It’s about working together in good times and bad and showing that one can’t exist without the other.”

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein appeared at the event with his wife and newborn son.

“Thank you to the 109th Precinct Community Council & We Love Whitestone for sponsoring Family Fun Day, which was a great event and had a tremendous turnout,” Braunstein said.

According to We Love Whitestone Vice President George Mirtsopoulos, a massive amount of food was provided and served to participants, with a total of 1,500 hotdogs, 800 hamburgers and 500 cupcakes eaten throughout the day.

Mirtsopoulos said that it was a pleasure working and partnering with 109th Precinct Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti and the 109th Precinct Community Council led by Voskerichian.

“The weather was great and a fun time was had by all,” Mirtsopoulos said.


Missing Queens Village woman found dead in trunk of her car in Flushing

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated Sept. 12, 10:35 a.m.

The decomposing body of a Queens Village woman – who was reported missing a week ago – was found in the trunk of her own car on a Flushing street Thursday night, according to police.

Officers from the 109th Precinct made the grim discovery at 8:36 p.m. Thursday while responding to a call regarding a suspicious vehicle parked near the corner of 22nd Avenue and Murray Street.

After noticing a foul odor emanating from the trunk of the Nissan Maxima, authorities said, the officers opened the trunk and discovered the body of Angie Escobar, 28, with multiple stab wounds to her torso. Police determined that the vehicle was registered in her name.

Escobar was reported missing a week earlier; she was last seen on Sept. 4 at 11 p.m. at her 221st Street residence.

The body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s office, where Escobar was subsequently identified.

The Nissan Maxima belonging to Escobar, in which the body was found. Photo courtesy of NYPD.

The Nissan Maxima belonging to Escobar, where her body was later found. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Meanwhile, police ask the public’s help in finding Luis Zambrano, 30, of 150th Street in Flushing, who was identified in published reports as Escobar’s former boyfriend and is wanted in connection with the homicide.

According to authorities, Zambrano was last seen driving the Nissan Maxima in close proximity to his residence. He is described as standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds and having a bald head.

Anyone with information about the murder or Zambrano’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Burglaries, other crimes take big downturn in 109th Precinct: cops

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Major crimes from murders to burglaries are down drastically across the 109th Precinct this year, the precinct’s commanding officer reported during Wednesday’s 109th Precinct Community Council meeting in Flushing.

According to Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, there have been 258 fewer victims of serious crime this year than at the same point in 2014.

Burglaries had the steepest decline over the last year at 40 percent, with 198 incidents this year compared to 330 in 2014. Conforti said this is due to the recent arrests of known burglars over the course of the last eight months.

Stolen vehicles are also significantly down in the 109th Precinct, with approximately 30 percent less than this time last year. A total of 32 fewer vehicles were stolen altogether.

The decrease in car thefts is most clearly seen in the numbers of the most popularly stolen car in the 109th Precinct, the Ford Econoline van. That model of car alone has seen a decrease in theft from over 40 stolen last year down to 22 so far in 2015.

Although overall crime is down, the deputy inspector said that lot of crime that does happen can be prevented by locking the doors of parked vehicles.

Conforti estimated that over 85 percent of larceny from autos would be prevented if residents locked the doors of their unattended cars, including a recent theft in which an envelope with $10,000 in cash was stolen from an unlocked car.

“New York City is a safe place, Queens is a safe place compared to years past,” Conforti said, “but we still live in a major city and we’re targets because it’s a nice area.”


Fun for all at Whitestone Family Day

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos/We Love Whitestone

From rides to arts and crafts, plenty of excitement is in store during the second annual Family Fun Day in Whitestone‘s Francis Lewis Park scheduled for later this month.

Organized by the 109th Precinct Community Council and the We Love Whitestone civic group, the event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, from noon to 4 p.m.

Planned features and activities include pony rides, face painting, an on-site balloon artist, two inflatable bouncy houses, a pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting, fresh cotton candy, a DJ and an NYPD rock wall. The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance, fire department and local elected officials are also expected to attend.

Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said that Family Fun Day is just one event in the 109th Precinct’s yearlong effort to connect with the community, and the council makes an effort to have large-scale community programming every quarter.

These events aim to help residents feel comfortable with the officers in their precinct, especially younger children still learning about the important role of police in maintaining public safety.

“It’s a great way to work together, and for the community to get to know their police officers,” Voskerichian said. “It gives children positive interaction with police at a very early age.”


We Love Whitestone president Alfredo Centola has been working with the civic group to procure donations for Family Fun Day, and did so in a smaller capacity last year.

According to Centola, a total of 22 business have donated in addition to funds collected from private citizens, and Pepsico has pledged to provide beverages for the day.

“It’s really a nice feeling. It brings the community together with the precinct, merchants and children,” said Centola. “It’s kind of like a culminating event to end the summer.”

Anyone interested in donating to Family Fun Day can contact the We Love Whitestone group by email at welovewhitestone@gmail.com.


Man dies in College Point truck crash

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A 56-year-old truck driver died behind the wheel Tuesday morning after reportedly suffering a heart attack causing him to crash into three parked cars, according to authorities.

At about 10:45 a.m. police officers of the 109th Precinct responded to a 911 call of a vehicle collision at 15th Avenue by 117th Street in College Point. Upon arriving, they found the driver of a tractor trailer truck – whose identity was withheld pending family notification – unresponsive and unconscious, police said.

Emergency personnel responded and took the driver to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens where he was pronounced dead.

A preliminary investigation determined that the driver was traveling eastbound on 15th Avenue when it struck three unoccupied parked vehicles before coming to a stop, cops said.

According to the NY Post, the driver had suffered a cardiac arrest before swerving the truck into the cars.

The Medical Examiner will determine the exact cause of death and the investigation by the NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.


Teen caught after hoverboard theft in Whitestone

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

It’s a must-have item, even for thieves.

A 17-year-old was apprehended in Whitestone Sunday only 30 minutes after stealing a trendy self-balancing electric scooter, according to authorities.

Edward Diee, 17, first encountered the victim — another minor whose name and age were not released by police — riding the scooter on the 147th block of 15th Drive at 8:30 p.m.

Police said Diee initially approached the victim and began speaking to him, asking a number of questions before finally hitting him, shoving him to the ground and taking the scooter.

The victim’s family quickly called 911 to notify police of the incident, and the suspect was found less than 30 minutes later by patrol cars cruising the area.

After being positively identified, Diee was arrested and charged with one count of robbery in the second degree.

Self-balancing electric scooters are popularly known as “hoverboards” despite not actually levitating off the ground, and consist of a foot rest between two wheels which propel themselves forward without any effort from the user.

Wired.com reports that boards can cost between $600 to $1,800 each and that celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown have all been seen using them.


Four ATM skimming devices found in past two weeks in 109th Precinct

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are cautioning the public to be mindful of erroneous charges on their accounts after four ATM skimming devices were found in the past two weeks in the 109th Precinct.

Two of the devices were discovered in automated teller machines located inside a Flushing Duane Reade store at 136-02 Roosevelt Ave., according to a statement released over social media by Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti. Two additional devices were found affixed to gas pumps at the gas stations located in Whitestone at 17-55 Francis Lewis Blvd. and on the Bayside border at 29-16 Francis Lewis Blvd.

Police said that the devices were respectively discovered by workers at Duane Reade and gas station owners, who then immediately called NYPD to investigate.

Deputy Inspector Conforti said police do not know how long the devices were in place.

The Inspector further stated that it is usually a couple of months after finding the device that victims may begin to notice suspicious charges on their bank accounts.

The NYPD is advising consumers who may have used charge cards on these ATM machines or gas pumps since Aug. 1 to call credit card or bank companies and inform them of cards which may have been compromised.

The case is being investigated by the Financial Crimes Task Force. Any suspicious activity or crime should be immediately reported to the 109th Precinct.


Crews wipe out hateful message found written in Flushing sidewalk

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of City Councilman Peter Koo

Whoever wrote an anti-Asian message into the sidewalk near a Flushing condominium won’t have the satisfaction of seeing it any longer.

Crews from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday morning erased the slur from the sidewalk slab in front of the Cherry Manor Condos at 141-18 Cherry Ave. A photo of the vandalism, apparently written while the cement was drying after being recently poured, was posted on a Facebook group on Saturday and subsequently shared with City Councilman Peter Koo.

Koo’s office then contacted the DOT and the condo management, both of which resolved to take action as quickly as possible. The DOT’s Sidewalks and Inspection Management Division buffed away the markings.

“It is critical that the community take an immediate stand against this kind of hate speech wherever and whenever it surfaces,” Koo said. “We embrace our diversity here in Flushing as a strength that should be celebrated and nurtured, and we will stand vigilant against racism in all forms.”

No one knows who wrote the message on the sidewalk, but the 109th Precinct is investigating the crime.


Cops in 109th Precinct recover loaded gun from emotionally disturbed man

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

Officers in the 109th Precinct disarmed an emotionally disturbed man possessing a loaded gun on Friday, according to police.

“I cannot stress how dangerous of a situation the officers were placed in,” Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti said in a statement. “It is a true testament to the professionalism and bravery of these officers, given the circumstances, that the incident was defused without a single injury to anyone involved.”

The four officers responded to a 911 call shortly after 9 p.m. at an undisclosed location within the 109th Precinct’s confines about an emotionally disturbed man suffering from depression. After arriving at the location and approaching to establish a verbal dialogue, the officers observed a firearm in the man’s hand and immediately sought cover.

The man complied with the officers’ initial demands to put down his firearm, but picked up the weapon once again when he was approached to be taken into custody. After the officers convinced the man to put down the gun for a second time, police said, he was tackled and the weapon — a loaded 9mm handgun — was secured.

“Great job to each and every officer,” NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker said via Twitter. “Thank you for relying on your communication skills to resolve the job peacefully.”


Elderly man found dead at Flushing’s Maple Playground in apparent suicide

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Robert Stridiron

A 74-year-old man was found dead inside Maple Playground in Flushing early Saturday morning after an apparent suicide, police said.

The man’s body was discovered hanging from a piece of exercise equipment at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday in the playground located near Kissena Boulevard and Maple Avenue, authorities said.

The victim’s name has not been released and an investigation is ongoing.


PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


Burglar strikes several homes near Bowne Park in Flushing

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Inset courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is asking for the public’s assistance in finding a man wanted for a recent burglary pattern in the area surrounding Flushing’s Bowne Park dating back to June.

Police released on Thursday morning a surveillance camera image of the suspect, described as a black male wearing a white bucket hat and a gray jogging suit while carrying a backpack.

The first incident occurred between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 16, when the crook entered the backyard of a home on 158th Street and was observed trying to enter through a window. Police said he fled after he was unable to get inside.

His second burglary attempt also failed, police said, when he unsuccessfully tried to enter through a window of a 154th Street home on June 25 between 3 and 10 p.m.

Police said the burglar finally succeeded on July 1, when he broke into a home on 28th Street between 1:30 and 4 p.m. and removed an undetermined amount of property.

Then, on July 2 between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., authorities said, the bandit broke through a rear window of a home on 25th Avenue and stole two gold rings and a pair of earrings.

All of the incidents took place within the confines of the 109th Precinct.

Anyone with information regarding the burglary pattern or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.