With a rash of cell phone robberies, as well as bicycle thefts, plaguing the community, the 45th Precinct is taking a proactive approach to the problem with an innovative etching identification program.
The program allows youngsters to register bikes, cell-phones, Sidekick text-messaging devices, and I-Pods by having a number etched on the portable property.
The 45th Precinct is urging all youngsters to be aware of their surroundings when text messaging or talking on cell phones to their friends, and also know that there are individuals who watch and wait for opportunities to steal cell phones.
“I wouldn’t say it is out of control, but it definitely is the crime of the season to steal cell phones,” said Captain Dimitrios Roumeliotis of the 45th Precinct.
Police officer Pasquale Pappalardi, 45th Precinct crime prevention officer, highlighted the benefits that the etching program has on both deterring potential thefts, and making the successful prosecution of perpetrators easier.
“Right now, there are a lot of break-ins at un-locked sheds, and bicycles are getting stolen,” Pappalardi said. “We etch a number and write it into a book with the owner’s information. At least if we find the cell-phones, I-pods, or bicycles, we can get it back to the owner.”
Pappalardi said that even if the owner of the popular items doesn’t know that the theft has occurred or hasn’t yet reported it, if it’s in the database, it could ensure swift prosecution of the offender.
“Bikes don’t have license plates,” Pappalardi stated. “Sometimes we will see something out of place, like an older adult with a kid’s bicycle, and if we can identify it as stolen property, we can make an arrest.”
The 45th Precinct saw a steep rise in robberies earlier in the year due to cell phone thefts, I-pods, and Sidekicks from students in area schools.
Since that time, the rate has declined, and is just 6.6% above last year’s numbers, the only one of seven major crime categories to post any significant increase in 2008.
This year, overall major crime in the 45th Precinct is down almost 1%, posting a 24% decline over 2001 and a 68% decline from 1993.
Etching of items such as bicycles, cell phones, Sidekicks text-messaging devices, and I-pods takes place at the precinct, located at 2877 Barkley Avenue between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
For more information on the etching program, contact Papallardi at (718) 822-5487.