From the 1970s to the 1990s, New York City was considered by many to be a region of high crime, where nobody would keep their doors unlocked even for a few minutes and car doors were always double-checked to be locked. Today, with a population of over eight million, we live in comfort and relative safety, with an overall lower crime index. Because of this, many have regrettably become lax in various security procedures and are more prone to become victims of criminal activity.

On Wednesday afternoon, May 6, local KGH hero Ari Fozailow was recognized at Kew Gardens Hills’ NYPD 107th Precinct. Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Scott Henry revealed further details on how the unfortunate incident on 73rd Avenue and 147th Street unfolded.

Late at night, Ari’s wife Diana called 911 after hearing rustling outside their home. It seemed evident that a break-in was underway. Little did she know, two other calls to law enforcement, unbeknownst to one another, had already been placed by nearby neighbors. Around one a.m., three men, aged 18, 19, and 20, had begun pulling nearly every car door handle on 72nd Road between Vleigh Place and 147th Street. Neighbors reported that the crew had already gained access to several vehicles and spent time ruffling around. At the time Diana had reached out for help, the police had already been in hot pursuit of these individuals. “The suspects had been seen running into driveways and jumping over fences,” conveyed Henry.

“These situations are dangerous for all involved, and one must always remain careful when placed in an uncomfortable environment,” continued Henry. “The backyard door had been closed, trapping the third man within reach of Ari, leaving the crook no place to hide. The two men who had disappeared from Fozailow’s property were soon apprehended and the police department appreciates Ari’s fast-thinking and control of the situation in subduing the third suspect.”

At that precinct meeting that took place on Wednesday afternoon, the Queens Jewish Link and Bukharian Jewish Link arranged for a lunch for the devoted officers of the 107th, catered by Carlos and Gabby’s on Main Street. A community’s outpouring of love and appreciation for New York City’s Finest is fundamental for their psyche. Henry explained, “The community support in the 107th is incredible and second to none. Having served in many areas of our great city, I have never experienced a greater consistency of gratitude than from this area.”

Unfortunately, the arrested burglars, as well as two package thieves who were caught, were released either shortly after arrival at the precinct or after central booking. Local bail laws do not allow for suspects of this caliber to remain in lockup. “Evil boys are going to do evil things. If our state keeps giving the criminals opportunities, they are going to take them up,” a police source grumbled. “There’s nothing the cops can do because of these new bail rules,” the officer continued. “All they can do is bust them, but they just cannot hold them too long.”

Easy Steps to Prevent Local Crime

One may not realize that burglary is generally not a nighttime crime. During the daytime, homeowners are typically at work, leaving their dwellings unwatched with free rein for outlaws to ransack. Overnight break-ins are very alarming and predictably will result in a tremendous police response in just a few minutes, as was evident in this situation.

These bandits reside in the Bronx and Brooklyn and are no strangers to inflicting unrest on our community. One suspect had a prior arrest and the other two had longer rap sheets, mostly for lower level offenses. As residents of our own streets, we are our own best detectives. If you notice someone or something suspicious that simply does not belong, call the police for assistance. In the case of car break-ins, suspects tend to travel to new neighborhoods and have a vehicle of their own nearby with a driver inside. From the safety of your own home, try to take notice of such a car and take a quick snapshot, which can be vital in tracking down their origin and stopping these crimes from persisting.

Residents often ask what they can do to avoid theft. First and foremost, ensuring that your car doors are always locked and that your keys are with you, even when running into a store for a moment, are good measures to start. One would be very surprised to learn how much cash and luxury items people tend to forget in their vehicles. When driving, one may drop his or her watch in a cup holder or leave a credit card in the glove box or middle console for easy access. Thieves know these things and look in these areas first. Do not become another statistic when it can be prevented.

In a separate incident, one local resident who had her packages stolen warns her neighbors to remain vigilant and keep tabs of the surroundings of their homes. “The use of a smart doorbell with a video camera is a wise decision that gives homeowners and renters a better sense of security and protection for the family, enabling one to communicate and potentially ward off a thief,” she said. The police response here was, as well, admirable, as forces arrived in just a couple of minutes and quickly apprehended the suspects.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, package thieves, aka “porch pirates,” are simply on the loose. Youth are bored at home and end up involved in mischievous activities. With more people shopping online, mail rooms, vestibules, stoops, and porches are overflowing with boxes of essential food deliveries and activities for the children. Petty crooks are making off with these parcels, leaving families trapped in isolation without their precious belongings.

So, what can one do to foil these poachers? Quite a bit, at least in the case of the package theft, and strategies range from the high-tech to common sense.

If you live in a non-doorman building with a common foyer, do the building residents a favor and do not buzz anyone unknown into the building. Getting past that first door is all a thief needs to scoop up what is left there and bolt.

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When able, track your package and request a signature when applicable. Neighbors come in handy, as well, as you can ask them to fetch your delivery when it arrives. If you’re not going to be home, try to arrange a delivery to your job or have a friend accept the package.

You may also take it up a notch and invest in security solutions like cameras. These act in a preventive manner, specifically when paired with a motion-activated spotlight. These outdoor lights do the obvious and shine upon the intruder and may also attract the attention of fellow neighbors. Smart camera systems often link to home devices including Alexa and Google Home, allowing owners to receive live video alerts.

If, after all your protection efforts you still are the victim to a thievery, insurance may be able to cover losses – but they often come with a deductible, preventing victims from filing claims on cheaper items.

Commanding Officer Henry expressed that the recent situations illustrated the importance of community involvement. “It is our goal to always have the quickest response we can and to act professional throughout the ordeal while we keep our neighborhood safe.”

 By Shabsie Saphirstein

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