The suspicious individual who was seen on camera prowling inside Kew Gardens Hills synagogues was apprehended by Queens Shmira volunteers early morning last Sunday. “We were contacted by someone who recognized him on the security camera. He received an alert on his phone and then we arrived on the scene,” said Shmira coordinator Yoni Fricker. “We banged on the doors and then he exited. We held him until police arrived.”
For the last couple of weeks, members of the nearby Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills had a clear image of the burglar, captured on camera with the image distributed throughout the neighborhood. “Rabbi [Yoel] Schonfeld and Eddie (the custodian), on separate occasions, morning and evening, asked him why he was in our building and when his excuse did not make sense, they asked him to leave,” wrote shul president David Reich. “Our new video camera system shows him wandering around both of our buildings, probably looking for something to steal.”
On the night following last Shabbos, the individual was captured on camera stalking inside Ohel Simcha on 72nd Avenue. “The doors were locked, but the shul was unaware of a broken window,” said Fricker. “It happened close to 2 a.m.”
In a statement, the leadership of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills thanked Queens Shmira for its apprehension of the trespasser. “So far, it appears the perpetrator was a petty thief trying to get whatever valuables he could find in the shuls he entered. The police say that he worked as a delivery boy for various kosher eateries in the neighborhood so he was familiar with the interiors of many shuls,” the statement read. “This points to the fact that we must redouble our efforts in being vigilant and question the entry of people who may look somewhat familiar to us, but not quite belonging where they are.”
Although police officials did not release the suspect’s name, they noted that he was wanted for taking cash from pushkas on three separate nights last summer from Khal Degel Israel.
In related news, the car thief who foolishly left his phone in a car and then threatened the owner’s wife before running away was arrested on Friday, Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal reported. “I was told that they got him, but we don’t have further details.”
Fricker said that for Shmira to be effective, it needs the tools of communication. As with Hatzolah and Chaverim, this means dispatchers and radios. “Visit our website to learn about what we need and how you can help.”
By Sergey Kadinsky