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Keen officers stop burglary crew in 109th

The NYPD's Sgt. Michelle Kemp (l.-r.) and Officers Edwin Martinez, Matthew Slawn and Gregory Aull hold their Cop of the Month awards as they are joined by Eugene Sadowsky (front l.) and James Trikas (back l.), of the Holly Civic Association, which sponsored the awards. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

The 109th Precinct Community Council gave out several awards last week to officers with excellent gut instincts as well as community members who took care of residents and animals alike.

The council recognized four Cops of the Month who busted some clever thieves trying to rip off metal from a College Point aerospace company.

“The investigation revealed this burglary crew was very crafty,” said Deputy Inspector Brian Maguire, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct.

On Dec. 12, Officers Matthew Slawn and Gregory Aull responded to a burglary in progress near the corner of 28th Avenue and 120th Street, according to Maguire.

The officers discovered men in a van with various types of metal in the back that belonged to the company.

Officer Edwin Martinez and Sgt. Michelle Kemp arrived a short time later, and Kemp recalled that a burglary had been reported at the site before, Maguire said. In fact, she had recommended some security upgrades to make the business safer, but they were apparently not implemented.

Kemp had a hunch that the men in the van had also hit a construction site nearby, and her suspicions were confirmed when she observed another vehicle parked there with materials from both the site and from the company, according to the deputy inspector.

In total, the metal they had taken was worth about $70,000, he said.

The burglars thought they were pulling a fast one on the NYPD, Maguire said, although it did not work out well for them.

During business hours, when work was being done at the construction site, the suspects would switch one of the locks on a gate, installing one that looked similar but that they could open when needed, he said.

When they would go back after hours to ransack the site for valuable metals, they would lock the gate behind them, the deputy inspector said.

“If 911 was called and we responded, it would seem like the area was secure,” Maguire said.

But Kemp’s gut instincts guided her to the rest of the suspects, one of whom was connected to another burglary at a city Sanitation facility, according to the deputy inspector.

“Thanks to the outstanding actions of these officers, a burglary crew was taken off the street,” Maguire said before the council handed over the awards.

In addition, the council, headed by President Chrissy Voskerichian and Vice President Vana Partridge, gave out awards to members of the community.

David Merker is a veterinarian at Whitestone Animal hospital. While most crimes involve a perpetrator and a victim, the victims are not always people.

Last year, a man was stabbed to death in the 109th Precinct and his dog was seriously injured as well.

The man was taken to the hospital, but Officer Amanda Graney took the pooch to the vet where he was nursed back to health and eventually adopted.

“That’s police community partnership,” Voskerichian said.

The 109th also commended Kevin Campbell, a former NYPD officer, for his excellent work running security at New York Hospital Queens.

After the awards, city Comptroller John Liu took to the podium to reminisce about his old stomping grounds — he was formerly a Flushing city councilman — and commend the council on its work in completely packing the meeting with people on a monthly basis.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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