Around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, Kew Gardens resident MK Moore first noticed shattered glass on the ground near Metropolitan Avenue and Park Lane South. When he looked up, he realized that many cars had their front passenger window smashed out. Along with the glass, personal belongings from the cars, like gloves and a gym bag, were scattered across the sidewalk. One car had their center console ripped out and thrown out.
While officers from the 102nd Precinct were taking police reports from the owners of the cars, Moore walked from the Metropolitan Avenue entrance of Forest Park down Park Lane South to the entrance near Myrtle Avenue. He found that a total of 20 cars were vandalized.
“This has been disturbing to the community and kind of shocking,” Moore said.
Moore believes that the break-ins occurred between 2 and 6 a.m. As president of the Friends of Forest Park community group, he felt there were several changes needed to make the area safer.
First, the area near Forest Park needs more lighting. He argued that with little lighting along the sidewalk and the park, it’s easier for criminal activity to occur.
“They could come, commit crime and then go right back into the park and disappear,” he said.
Additionally, residents have been calling for more police patrols within the park. There are Parks Enforcement Police provided by the Parks Department who go on patrol typically between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. everyday.
“They’re doing what they can, but they’re terribly underfunded and are unable to meet the needs that we have here in the community,” he said. “They can’t work in the evening, and at this end of the park, by the yellow trail, after sundown is when the activity begins and goes through the night.”
Moore also called for cameras near the park.
“Kew Gardens has one of the lowest crime rates in the city, but the break-ins have been on the increase in this area near the park over the last year,” he said. “There are generally one or two car break-ins, not as many as 20 at once, but we’re also starting to see cars that are cinder blocks with all four tires removed.”
Moore also commended the swift work of the 102nd Precinct, who responded quickly to the situation by placing flyers on all of the vehicles in the area and posting tips on Twitter to further warn residents.
In addition to suggesting drivers park in a well-lit area, lock the doors and remove valuable items like laptops and wallets, the 102nd Precinct also encouraged glass VIN etching.
By etching the car’s VIN number into each window, the value of the car decreases for the thieves and it can also help to ID stolen parts at a junkyard.
Another suggestion was the addition of a Combat Auto Theft sticker on the car’s rear windows, which would allow officers to stop the vehicle during the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.