JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens - Police in Queens believe they have cracked a string of car burglaries, thanks to a newly placed neighborhood coordination officer.
The program involves matching young uniformed officers with veteran detectives in an effort to make a big dent in neighborhood crime.
Authorities say the suspect shattered rear windows of at least 25 parked cars in Jackson Heights before jumping head first into the vehicles and taking whatever he could, and several of the incidents were caught on surveillance video.
"At the beginning of every tour, we would come in, and it wasn't a matter of if a car got broken into, it was how many cars got broken into," Officer Tyler Scala said.
Scala and Officer Brian Leibold are part of the new NYPD unit that pairs promising young police officers called neighborhood coordination officers (NCOs) working in small defined neighborhoods to form relationships with people there.
"That's the power of the program is the NCOs really get to know the people in the community," Lieutenant Steven Weiss said. "They form relationships with business owners. They form relationships with people in the community. They form relationships with supers of buildings."
And then, when a case like the burglaries happens, those NCOs can call on their relationships to help detectives solve the case.
"These guys come up, and they're very eager to help out and find out what we have," Detective Michael Fischer said. "I find out what they have, and the conversation is opened up. And it's great between the squad and patrol."
And that's just how this played out.
"We would change our tours to work later in the night when we knew that he was operating and breaking into vehicles, which everyone was on board for," Officer Leibold said. "Everyone told us to go out there, gave us every opportunity that we could to make this successful, and the first night we went out there, we caught him."