One-armed bandit strikes in Woodhaven
by Ed Wendell
Aug 08, 2012 | 1172 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
woodhaven theft
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As the scene unfolds one thing becomes abundantly clear: he acts like someone who has done this before. He opens the gate and unhurriedly walks up the steps. He picks up the package, which was delivered just moments before, and leaves as smoothly as he came. 

Two or three times he appears to glance at his surroundings, but he seems comfortable that no one is watching him. He is wrong about that. Tucked away on the front porch is a security camera, and as a result an untold number of eyes have now seen his face. His days as a package thief are coming to an end.

The crime took place around 6 p.m. on Monday, July 23, near 94th Street and 86th Avenue. A UPS driver can be seen dropping off the package and a minute or so later a silver minivan pulls over across the street. 

For the next seven minutes we see people passing by – a woman coming home from work, a man walking his dog, etc. It’s a very typical scene of the quiet life we live here in Woodhaven. Unbeknownst to the passersby, the silver minivan idling across the street is waiting for a break in the pedestrian traffic. And as soon as it comes, he makes his move.

To these eyes, he appears to be in his late 20s, early 30s. He looks to be fairly tall with dark hair.  And he appears to be missing his right arm. The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association is hoping that someone out there will see his picture and will recognize this thief. If they do, we hope they will call the 102nd Precinct at (718) 805-3207. Or, they can contact the WRBA at (718) 296-3737 or info@woodhaven-nyc.org.

Security cameras are wonderful devices that help the police catch criminals. Just last year a security camera in one of the businesses along Jamaica Avenue captured the face of the man who was later identified as the animal that sexually assaulted a young woman early one morning behind some bushes on 89th Street. He was arrested within a week.

The prices for home security systems such as the one that captured this theft are becoming more and more affordable. Whereas they were once rarities, they are now becoming commonplace. Like home computers and VCRs they will eventually become standard pieces of equipment found in every home and knowledge of this will serve as a major deterrent to crime. 

We have heard from others that have fallen victim to similar thefts. Here are a few tips to help you avoid this kind of crime from happening in the first place. For example, if you are not home during the hours of 9 to 5, perhaps you can have items shipped to your place of business or where you work.

When placing an order, quite often you have the option of entering delivery instructions. You can specify that the order not be left on your porch, and that it only be consigned to an individual residing at the delivery address. However, some people do not like this option as they often have to drive to a facility to collect their package, but it’s better than having it stolen.

Or, if you are friendly with a neighbor who you know is likely to be home, you can arrange to have the package delivered there. Some people go the old-fashioned route, leaving a note on their door telling the driver to leave the package on the back porch, though that in itself could indicate to crooks passing by that no one is home. 

One last thing to take away from this incident: if a crime like this happens to you, report it to the police and to your local civic group, the WRBA. It is important that we share this information with each other and, as a community, remain vigilant and aware of our surroundings. Remember: silence is the thief’s best friend.

A video of the crime is available online at bit.ly/PackageTheft.

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