Today’s news:

Thieves hot for gizmos - Cops launch new effort to safeguard electronic devices

With the proliferation of Sidekicks, iPods and other small electronic equipment being stolen throughout the borough, the new commanding officer of the 67th Precinct is instituting an innovative idea.

It’s called sidewalk seminars and it involves officials bringing a presence to areas with high incidents of electronic thefts.

“What we’re doing is instead of having our crime prevention officer and auxiliary police going to community based organizations like hospitals and senior centers to register phones, the CAP [Car Auto Theft] program and do VIN [Vehicle Identification Number] etching, we have them go into the street,” said Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues, commanding officer of the 67th Precinct.

“We put them in high-crime areas where we’ve seen a lot of electronic equipment robberies and grand larcenies, and it works threefold for us,” he added.

Pegues, who just came to the command last month, said this initiative puts a stronger police presence on the street and allows for the registration of more cell phones and other electronic equipment for identification purposes to trace if stolen.

In addition, suspects wanted for this type of theft may well turn up.

“This happened three weeks ago, and lo and behold, we were able to lock up two individuals for robberies of electronic equipment and grand larcenies,” said Pegues.

Despite the new battle plan, robbery and grand larceny have seen double-digit percentage increase in East Flatbush.

According to the latest official police statistics, robbery is up about 20 percent in 2008 with 343 incidents as compared to 286 at this time last year.

Grand larceny is up about 10 percent for the year with 453 incidents as compared to 411 at this time in 2007.

Overall, major felony crime in the 67th Precinct is down 2.5 percent for the year with auto thefts leading the way, dropping 32 percent. There have been 195 reported stolen cars thus far this year as compared to 287 at this time in 2007.

Reported burglaries has fallen nearly 14 percent with 287 incidents thus far in 2008 as compared to 333 at this time last year.

Felony assault is down slightly with 290 incidents reported thus far in 2008 as compared to 297 at this time last year.

Reported rapes are on the rise with 20 incidents thus far this year as compared to 13 at this time in 2007. Of these rapes, four were stranger rapes and the rest involved incidents where the victim knew the alleged perpetrator, Pegues said.

Murder is down slightly with 12 reported thus far this year as compared to 14 at this time last year.

Shootings are also up for the year with 47 reported incidents so far in 2008 as compared to 39 at this time in 2007.

The precinct, which led the city with 242 gun arrests last year, has had 125 gun arrests thus far this year.

Pegues and other police officials noted that the precinct is down in police manpower over two years ago.

However, Pegues said every precinct in the city is down in manpower and vowed to do more with less in his command. He also said partnering with the public is crucial in keeping crime down.

There are 250,000 residents who live in the confines of the precinct and the police need everyone’s eyes and ears to keep crime down, he said.

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