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Bogus gift card scam

It’s okay to look a gift card in the mouth, according to the top cop at the 84th Precinct.

If someone walks up to you on the street and offers you a seemingly new, prepaid gift card from a local store — head in the other direction, Captain Mark DiPaolo told the 84th Precinct Community Council last week. The card is most likely empty.

“Don’t do it,” urged DiPaolo, the commanding officer of the precinct.

He said the scam reminds him of street hustlers selling camcorders and VCR’s from the back of the truck. When an unsuspecting consumer arrives home and tests out his or her new electronic equipment, what felt heavy to the touch turns out to be a brick.

“With the bad economic time, there’s no one in the room who can afford to give up twenty, thirty, forty bucks,” he noted.

Even if something looks legitimate, it is likely obtained illegally. “If someone walks up to you and says do you want to buy a laptop for $50, they are doing something illegal,” DiPaolo said. “Make a mental note [of the person], and call 911,” he added.

Despite the Great Recession, overall crime is declining — at least in the 84th Precinct, police statistics show.

For the year so far, the precinct, which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Vinegar Hill and DUMBO, has seen a 22 percent decline in crime, and a 30 percent drop from 2007.

Compared to 2008, most major crime categories are declining, the data reveals. Burglaries are down 2.6 percent; robberies fell 32.9 percent; assaults dropped 13.9 percent; and grand larcenies are down 27.5, police statistics show.

There have been no murders reported, and two rapes, compared to none last year.

Only car thefts have seen a slight pop, rising 5.6 percent, police data shows.

Overall, there have been 289 incidents reported this year compared to 371 in 2008, for the period ending May 10, police statistics show.

DiPaolo said local residents should not rest on the precinct’s laurels. “Don’t get too comfortable,” he urged the 84th Precinct Community Council, which meets monthly at locations around the precinct.

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