Sector A Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) Ioana Matiuta and Nicholas Ringelspaugh discussed rising crime and their plans to address the abandoned car problems and other neighborhood concerns at their quarterly Build the Block meeting on Thursday, September 29th via Zoom.
Matiuta and Ringelspaugh joined Sector A about a month ago and gave a quarterly comparison report for the sector, which runs roughly from Ralph Avenue to Louisiana Avenue, and from Avenue D to Flatlands Avenue.
“For this period, we’ve had an increase in burglaries, grand larcenies and grand larcenies of autos, and we’ve had a decrease in rapes, robberies and felony assaults,” Matiuta said. “A lot of these crimes, especially murder and a lot of the felony assaults and grand larcenies, have happened in housing.”
She said that there have been a lot of shootings. Cars and catalytic converters were still being stolen so everyone should make sure to lock their cars and park them in a well-lit area with some sort of surveillance.
With keyless entry vehicles, she advised keeping the key fob in a transmitter proof container because there are thieves who can catch the signal with a transmitter. When people think they are locking their cars, they can actually be unlocking it.
Matiuta said that she and her partner have been towing cars constantly. They towed two tractor trailers on Glenwood Road and on Foster Avenue the night before the meeting. Collision shop owners were asked to do a cleanup in the area to remove cars, auto parts, seats, benches, tires and debris from the sidewalks. They cooperated with the cleanup, but the cars are still there. Matiuta plans to conduct her own tow operation on October 11th, then a precinct-wide tow with Sanitation and their contracted tow company on November 3rd.
She mentioned a cleanup on Foster Avenue, between Remsen Avenue and East 92nd Street, with State Senator Persaud’s office and said there would be a separate operation for Foster Avenue because it is a problematic industrial area.
She said that many of the towed cars end up back on the street because used car dealers will buy cars from out of state and ship them to another country; they use the street as storage until they can find a buyer.
It’s a summons only if it’s a registered vehicle with a plate. If it doesn’t have a plate, it can be towed, but it’s easy to get back because all they have to do is show proof of ownership and tow it back out. “It’s a little bit of a revolving door,” she said. “ We’re battling against the wind here, but we’re trying our best.”
As reported in the past, it’s also a space issue because once the tow lots are full, the officers can’t tow any vehicles, but another reason it’s so difficult to tackle the problem is because the precincts are so short-staffed.
Very recently, new officers began working in Field Training Units and must undergo six months of training where they are sent to patrol high crime areas before being assigned a precinct. Precincts get officers based on the crime rates. An uptick in violent crimes will bring an influx of officers. All officers are being sent where needed and NCOs must prioritize 911 over 311 calls.
“We’re all taking on multiple positions,” Matiuta said of problems compounded by COVID and recruitment issues. “The rate of people leaving and retiring, and for whatever reasons there are, like jobs that pay better, versus the rate of people joining the police department doesn’t even itself out so that’s why there is a shortage.”
The next 69th Precinct Sector A meeting will take place in person on a Thursday night in December at 7 p.m. with the date to be announced.