The NYPD South Queens Auto Larceny Investigation Unit and DA’s Office are among the 24 agencies set to receive $3.7M in state Grants to combat motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud.
By Michael V. Cusenza
More than $3.7 million in State grants to help further reduce motor vehicle theft and insurance fraud in 12 counties across New York have been awarded to 24 law enforcement agencies, including the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the City Police Department’s Patrol Borough Queens South Auto Larceny Fraud Investigation Unit, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday.
District Attorney Richard Brown’s Office once again has received the largest slice of the pie: $560,624. Brown, now in his 26th year as the borough’s top prosecutor, thanked Cuomo and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services for their support.
“The State funding that we are receiving will significantly enhance our efforts to go after those who would steal vehicles and auto parts from hard-working Queens residents and those who would scheme to defraud insurance companies, both of which drive up the cost of insurance for all motorists,” he said.
The NYPD has been awarded a total of $323,873 in grant funds, which will be doled out to three specialized units: the aforementioned PBQS Auto Larceny Fraud Investigation Unit, the Auto Crime Division, and the Fraudulent Collision Investigation Unit.
According to the latest available CompStat figures, motor vehicle theft is down by more than 18 percent in south Queens. There have been 571 grand larceny auto complaints filed so far this year, compared to 700 year-to-date in 2016.
Brown noted that the DA’s Office has received funding from DCJS’s Motor Vehicle Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention programs since the inception of his Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit in 1998. That squad is part of Brown’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, which, he said, specifically focuses on the investigation and prosecution of auto theft and insurance fraud-related cases by incorporating a multi-pronged approach: the unit makes use of specialized prosecutors and investigators; long-term investigations and sting operations; the development and use of confidential informants; sophisticated technology and surveillance equipment; detailed analysis of crime statistics and patterns; and strong partnerships with police and other law enforcement agencies as well as the insurance industry.
The unit and its approach have been quite effective.
“In Queens County auto theft has long been a benchmark in measuring my office’s effectiveness in combating crime,” Brown added. “I have devoted significant resources to ferreting out criminal organizations that profit from the illicit trafficking of stolen autos, auto parts and insurance fraud – and with great success. Since becoming district attorney in 1991, the rate of auto thefts in Queens has been dramatically cut by 96 percent – from a high of approximately 52,000 vehicles being stolen annually to less than 2,000 a year.”