By Daniel Katzive
Crime has moderated in the 20th Precinct in February after a tough start to the year. Deputy Inspector Neil Zuber delivered the welcome news at the precinct’s monthly Community Council meeting on Thursday night.
Zuber credited the precinct’s strategy of aggressively deploying patrol officers along commercial corridors for helping to stem the burglary spree. He also singled out one of the precint’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers, Police Officer Edward Groger, whose investigative work using video footage led to the identification of a suspect in the break-ins, work for which Groger was recognized as Patrol Borough Manhattan North’s “Cop-of-the-Month” according to Zuber.
One exception to the better trend is auto theft. Thefts of cars are up across the city this year, and this was also highlighted at last week’s 24th Precinct Community Council meeting, just to the north of the 2-0. In the 28 days ending Sunday, the 20th Precinct has recorded 12 auto thefts, up from just three in this period last year, according to NYPD Compstat data. Citywide auto thefts are up 8% during this period over last year’s pace.
Deputy Inspector Zuber said that, in the 2-0, thieves appear to be targeting Hondas, and the CRV model in particular. The thieves are believed to be using a technical device which allows them to mimic the key fobs of Hondas, entering the cars and driving away without physical damage to the cars. This makes the thefts difficult to prevent and difficult to detect in progress.
Zuber suggested owners of these cars who park on the street consider using one of the steering wheel immobilization devices that were popular in the 1990s, at least until the auto manufacturers have updated their software to address this vulnerability. “When they go high tech, we go low tech,” he said.
Zuber also noted that neighborhood residents may see a heightened presence of officers from the precinct and the NYPD’s Counter Terrorism Bureau in front of Jewish houses of worship this weekend. This is in response to antisemitic social-media chatter about possible threats, as reported by NBC News this morning. Zuber and the NYPD have emphasized that this is precautionary and that there is no specific credible threat to New York City.
The next meeting of the 20th Precinct Community Council will be held on Thursday, March 23rd, at 7pm in the precinct station house on West 82nd Street. The public is welcome.