Motorcycle and Package Thefts Have Spiked, NYPD Commander Says at Community Meeting

Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi with Community Council President Tom Burnett.

By Joy Bergmann

Thieves on the Upper West Side are currently targeting unguarded packages and motorcycles, Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi told about 40 residents gathered Wednesday evening for the 24th Precinct Community Council meeting held at Happy Warrior Playground on 97th and Amsterdam. It was the first full community council meeting since the pandemic shut down gatherings.

“In the past four weeks we’ve had 13 vehicle thefts, and 11 of those were motorcycles or mopeds,” he said. “If you have one, find a way to secure it.” In 2019, the same period clocked only two stolen vehicles.

Burglaries have almost doubled over last year’s numbers with 20 versus 11 in 2019, comparing the same 28-day period. [Burglaries are residential or commercial break-ins ending in theft; robberies are muggings and other confrontational thefts.] Yaguchi noted the increasing popularity of online shopping during Covid-19 tracks with the trend. “More packages are being left in buildings without a secure place for them. Be mindful about letting unknown people into your buildings,” he advised.

Phone scams continue to be popular as well. Perpetrators will often target older people using a ruse about grandchildren being held in jail. They implore the victim to wire funds or purchase gift cards from CVS to secure the grandchild’s release. The con artists are fond of impersonating authority figures. “We even had someone pretending to be me,” Yaguchi said. “If you get any calls from anyone seeking money like this, hang up.”

Yaguchi had no new arrests to report in connection with the eight shooting incidents that have occurred in the 24th this summer. Investigations continue, he said. “I can’t get into the details, but I can tell you we have a good idea about what’s involved and the groups involved. The D.A.’s office has a big-picture view on who is doing this. We have a couple of individuals who have been involved in multiple shooting incidents. And we’re increasing police presence where the violence is occurring — in and around Douglass Houses.”

During Q&A, several residents complained about dirt bikes roaring along the avenues at all hours. Yaguchi said he’s well aware of the situation, but “Dirt bikes enforcement is very risky. They aren’t people who are going to stop for us. Once we start chasing them, anything can happen. Innocent bystanders could get hit.” He continued, “That said, we’re not ignoring it. We recently took two dirt bikes off the streets. And if citizens know where these guys are storing their bikes, that would be helpful information.”

A woman added that if locals see people riding recklessly on Revel rental scooters, they should call Revel directly. She said the company can see where all of their scooters are and whether drivers are, for example, going the wrong way down a one-way street and take immediate action.

One man asked NYPD officers to apply the law just as rigorously to “unregistered, uninsured, reckless” small tractors that he says a local landlord uses to haul garbage while blocking bike lanes and creating other hazards.

Multiple residents and store owners asked about aggressive panhandling, drug use and homeless encampments, especially around the 96th Street subway station. Yaguchi says he’s increasing foot patrols on Broadway and taking a multifaceted approach to improving quality-of-life issues. “We’re working with Goddard Riverside to approach certain individuals we all know about. They’ve refused services so far.”

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal arrived during the Q&A and fielded a number of concerns around the homeless hotel situation, including a rumor that residents of the Lucerne Hotel would be moved from 79th Street to facilities in the 90s. “No, that’s not happening,” said Rosenthal.

She noted that conditions around the Lucerne, Belleclaire and Belnord Hotels have been improving as the headcount has been shrinking through attrition and removal of rule-breakers. “Forty-three men are gone. Because they were aggressive, they don’t get the privilege of living here. They’re gone,” said Rosenthal. At the Lucerne, the tenancy is now down to about 240 residents and shelter providers agree that an ideal population would be around 200 residents each at the Lucerne and Belleclaire with 100 at the Belnord, she said.

NEWS | 11 comments | permalink
    1. lynn says:

      In reference to the scooters, if the company can track where their scooters are and whether drivers are going the wrong way, etc. then why does this have to be reported by pedestrians? I know that cars can be hacked so doesn’t the company have the technology to shut down the scooters?

      • Mark P says:

        It doesn’t – but there are other things Revel can’t track like running red lights. If you go to Revel’s website, reporting a violation is fairly easy – I did it the other day. I wasn’t able to get the license plate, but snapped a photo of the intersection. That plus the time stamp might allow them to cross against their GPS data and find the bike that was there at the time.

    2. Vic Pinalti says:

      Mr Policemen you should use the cameras from the intersection to catch those bikers , just take photo of their plates number and BAM all the information you need .

    3. Kevin says:

      My scooter was ripped apart, the lock mechanism dis-engaged and it was walked away. Luckily, someone saw this, yelled out and called the police, causing the thief to drop it and run..but…$1500 in damage. I now have multiple locks and a cover in place.
      Rode up to E. Harlem Tues and not ONE Revel rider wore a helmet up there and many were riding in the bike lanes. The police ignore all transgressions, including riding on the sidewalk.
      Seem we’re in a new era…which is not good.

    4. JL says:

      To DI Naoki Yaguchi re motorcycle/scooter thefts: how far are we in technology for citizens to having some kind of LoJack chip to protect property that move? Find your phone technology…

      You can put a chip in you pets, no? Kids? Wife? What’s involved for the NYPD in order for this to work for bikes, scooters, cars.

      Registration of serial numbers seems so last century.

    5. UWS_steve says:

      My scooter was stolen on W 71st this past weekend. Not chained to anything but had two locks activated. Doubt they sawed through them so must’ve been lifted into a van. Police were notified…Funny part is there are much nicer bikes/scooters parked on that same stretch of block. Lookout folks.

    6. Susan says:

      When I walk home on W.77th St. I have to pass groups of smoking men with no masks, so 200 doesn’t seem “ideal” to me. Maybe Helen would be good with 200 living on her block when she’s in her 70s? My neighbor has seen obscene behavior on the 77th benches on the Broadway meridian. I won’t go into the details. Again 200 just doesn’t seem ideal. We’d like the return of the safety and decency to our lives.

    7. Doug Garr says:

      I know how I’m going to die. I’m going to get hit by one of the restaurant delivery guys on an electric bike running me over on the sidewalk. I feel for them trying to hustle to make a living, but this is over the line. And it’s constant on the UWS. I recently got a photo ticket for doing 36 in a 25 mph “school zone” in the middle of August. I would just like to see at least casual enforcement of these guys riding full speed on the sidewalks.

      • FedUpPedestrian says:

        Doug Garr, I totally agree. I used to be afraid of cars when crossing with the signal. Now I’m afraid of being hit by a bike, ANYWHERE!

    8. Nevets K says:

      Are second homes a hot button issue?
      Are they irrelevant to the discussion – or far too relevant?
      I think our residents need to know where our “representatives” actually really really reside.
      Thanks, as always!