Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lindenwood Alliance Discusses Crime in Howard Beach by Stephen Geffon - Leader-Observer

More than 50 people attended the Lindenwood Alliance’s most recent meeting at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center in Howard Beach last week, a good showing for the young civic association.

“This shows we have issues in Lindenwood that need to be addressed,” said the group’s co-founder Joanne Ariola regarding the number in attendance.

The Lindenwood Alliance was founded last December by Ariola and Christina Gold to promote cooperation between residents, police, and elected officials in the area.

“Each little area in Howard Beach has its own very specific issues, and we wanted to have a unified voice for Lindenwood,” Ariola said.

Ariola told the audience that burglaries and auto thefts were two major issues in the community, which 106th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Brenda Bratcher discussed at the meeting.

Bratcher reported that in Lindenwood during 28 days between February and March, there had been one robbery, one felony assault, three burglaries, two grand larcenies and two auto thefts. She said the burglaries in the area have occurred between 76th and 88th streets and 149th and 156th avenues.

According to Bratcher, among the most frequently stolen items were money, jewelry and electronics including cameras, computers and large screen televisions. Bratcher said that in most cases the perpetrators entered apartments from the fire escapes.

“If you see anyone suspicious entering or exiting a property, don’t wait, call 911,” she said.

Bratcher told attendees that there was a recent home invasion at 149th Avenue and 88th Street. Since there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, she said she could not provide any additional details. However, she was able to say that there were four alleged perpetrators involved, two of whom have been captured.

FBI Special Agent James Capozzi also addressed the residents and asked them to participate in the FBI’s InfraGard program, designed to help keep the city’s infrastructure safe from future terrorist attacks.

“By raising your awareness, you are better positioned to let us know what you might see that we should respond to,” he told the audience.

Though still not widely known, InfraGard has been in existence since 1996. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took over responsibility for InfraGard in 2003.

The effort is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the U.S.

Today, InfraGard’s protection efforts involve a close working relationship between the FBI and the private sector, as well as other agencies, including DHS, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Small Business Administration.

Membership in the InfraGard program is free. To join, or for further information, contact or visit