Merchants in College Point recently reported suspicious people frequenting the area and pretending to be customers to burglarize the businesses. “Even the copper covers were repeatedly stolen,” the business owners complained.
The shops, in addition to installing electronic door locks to stop suspicious people from coming in, started closing and pulling down the iron gates before dark and installed surveillance video cameras.
Tina, who owns a construction materials store located near College Point and Northern Boulevard, said that about two months ago, the cover to the water main in the back of the store was stolen. At first, she didn’t pay attention, thinking that her landlord was probably making some repairs.
However, on the evening of February 20, a thief came again and stole the copper cover of the fire department sprinkler connection in the front. When she talked to her neighbors about the incident, she discovered that in the past few months, rows of stores had experienced similar incidents probably because the covers were easy to steal for a quick profit. Frustrated, many store owners decided to install a cheaper anti-rust cover made of iron. They even locked the covers to reduce further thefts.
According to some business owners, ever since a metal scrapyard opened between Willets Point and College Point, there have been many suspicious passersby in the area. Earlier this month, an African-American man came into a store to inquire about prices. Another person, standing outside, shouted, “the snow was not shoveled,” distracting the employee’s attention. The employee went to find out what was going on, and when he came back, he realized that his bag, which he left under the store’s table, was missing.
Some business owners recalled that a few weeks ago in the evening, there was a suspicious-looking car that double-parked in front of the stores, even though there was an available parking space.
A young Hispanic man came out of the car and went into a store, holding a ruler and saying he wanted to buy a carpet. The business owner, who was a female, thought he was suspicious and had the gut feeling it was a burglary. She ran outside the store and saw that there was someone waiting in the car.
The man, who was inside the store, kept asking her to come back, claiming that he wanted to make a purchase. She replied that the boss was not in and threatened to call the police. The man eventually left.