111th crime down 7.4 percent

Police released this sketch over the summer of a suspect they believed to be responsible for a string of cell phone thefts. Far Rockaway resident Eric Colvin, 24, was arrested and pleaded guilty to robbery charges. Photo courtesy NYPD
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The 111th Precinct had two murders in 2011 as overall crime declined by 7.4 percent from the previous year, according to Capt. Ron Leyson.

There were no homicides within the precinct, which covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Oakland Gardens and parts of Auburndale and Fresh Meadows, in 2010.

In February, 45-year-old Matthew Devlin was arrested for allegedly murdering his mother, longtime Bayside resident Elizabeth “Betty Ann” Devlin, and attacking her other son, John Devlin. Devlin’s next court date is Feb. 15.

The second murder, police said, is an open investigation of a Bayside woman who was thought to have died of natural causes in 2010 and whose death was later ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

Crime in the 111th Precinct was down 11.6 percent over the last two years, Leyson told last week’s community board meeting.

There were 830 major felonies recorded in the precinct in 2011. Leyson attributed a 4.1 percent increase in grand larcenies to thefts from parked vehicles and of electronic devices

Over the summer, police notified the community about a string of mobile phone robberies, in which a suspect would approach teenagers asking if they knew the time. The suspect would then pull out a gun and demand his victims hand over their electronic devices.

“If somebody asks you what time it is, don’t take your phone out. If you don’t have a watch, tell them you don’t know,” Leyson cautioned.

On Sept. 16, officers from the precinct’s robbery squad were staking out 188 Park at the corner of Underhill Avenue and 190th Street when they observed 24-year-old Eric Colvin allegedly robbing one male and one female juvenile. The Far Rockaway resident was arrested and pleaded guilty to robbery charges. In December he was sentenced by Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt to two to six years in prison.

Leyson said police were continuing their initiatives to prevent mobile phone thefts, especially at Bayside, Cardozo and Francis Lewis high schools. The captain said he did not usually endorse specific products, but he highly recommended a free application called “Find my iPhone” that allows the user to locate a missing phone on a map.

The app also allows the user to display a message or play a sound, remotely lock the device or erase data on it. Leyson said city cops used the app earlier this year to track a missing phone to upstate New York, five hours after it had been stolen.

Burglaries were down in the precinct by just shy of 20 percent and the 107 stolen cars last year represented a 20.7 percent decrease, Leyson said. The number of rapes was flat (six in both 2010 and 2011), robberies fell 2.5 percent and felony assaults dropped 7.7-percent.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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