Our bandbox bandit enters the stage upon which he commits his dastardly deed. (Source: NYPD)

Our bandbox bandit enters the stage upon which he commits his dastardly deed. (Source: NYPD)

Coppers are on the prowl for a villain of ritz and class who did indeed (allegedly) spy on a little old lady as she used an ATM at Kings Highway’s HSBC Bank, ultimately employing the ill-gotten information to steal $500 – presumably for more fresh threads and fly braids.

According to officials, the suspect entered the 1602 Kings Highway bank on Sunday, November 9, at 3:30pm. He took his place in line behind a 67-year-old woman, then, without scruples or true cunning, peered over her shoulder as she entered her pin number. Hobbled, perhaps, by faith in society due to her attachment to a bygone era, when such things could be done without the expectation of malice, our tragic victim did not log off the ATM upon finishing her transaction. The suspect put in the PIN and withdrew $500 in cash.

The suspect is described as a black man, approximately 6’0″, weighing 170lbs and with braided hair. Also, of rakish conceit.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Photo by Ned Berke

Photo by Ned Berke

Chances are, unless you are unusually precocious and aware of pop culture that pre-dated your existence on the planet, if you are 35 or younger, you don’t get the origin of that quote.

Photo by Ned Berke

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Vanilla Fudge's Vince Martell. Source: Wikipedia

Vanilla Fudge’s Vince Martell. Source: Wikipedia

The Bay Improvement Group (BIG) is teaming up with Councilman Chaim Deutsch to sponsor BIG’s 24th Annual Celebrity Holiday Caroling Free Concert and Toy Drive for Battered Women, Needy and Terminally Ill Children.

The yearly outreach event will be held at the Knights of Columbus Baron Dekalb, 3000 Emmons Avenue at Nostrand Avenue, Sunday, December 14 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. From a press release sent out by BIG:

Join in HOLIDAY CAROLING with Vince Martell – Vanilla Fudge “You Keep Me Hanging On”; US Navy Vet; Denver recording artist Peg Pearl of PBS “Love-In: A Musical; Dom “Randy” Safuto original lead singer of Randy and the Rainbows (“Denise”); Celebration with Ben Vereen, and others to be announced!

Admission is free with your donation of new and unwrapped toys, which will be distributed locally prior to Christmas. Toys can be dropped off at the Knights of Columbus, from now until Sunday between 12:00pm and 8:00pm.

For more information, call BIG President Steve Barrison at (212) 750-5560 or (718) 646-9206, email bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com or visit BIG on YouTubeFacebookTwitter, and on www.bigbayfest.org and www.bayimprovementgroup.org.

Source: Flickr/haagenjerrys

Source: Flickr/haagenjerrys

As we reported last month, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) plans to raise the cost of unlimited MetroCards by 4% over the next two years, and the Verrazano toll is expected to jump an entire dollar. When it comes to single MetroCards, it gets a little complicated:

The 30-day MetroCard will definitely jump from $112 to $116.50, but the MTA is deliberating on whether to raise the price of the single ride MetroCard to $2.75, or keep it the same, effectively eliminating the bonus on the 30-day card.

Well, now is your chance to take action! Come out to Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College this Thursday at 6pm (2900 Campus Road, near Nostrand Avenue and Avenue H) and give the MTA a piece of your mind. You can register to speak at the location on Monday between 5pm to 9pm, or in advance by calling (646) 252-6777 between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

The hearings, which will take place in all five boroughs, will run until ending time or until all registered speakers have spoken – whichever is later. The MTA requests that all comments be kept under three minutes so that everyone gets a chance to speak.

Comments can also be submitted online through the MTA website, or by letter to MTA Government Affairs, 347 Madison Ave., New York, 10017.

Sure is cold out there today. (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

Sure is cold out there. (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

Bills can be a pain for any family. But for those in the most dire need, it can mean choosing between staying warm this winter or putting food on the table.

For those who struggle, help is on the way. The Heartshare Neighborhood Heating Fund is now accepting applications for their program to provide up to $200 a month to put towards keeping warm this winter.

The program was founded by National Grid in 1983 to help low-income families and individuals, and in 1993 was taken over by HeartShare Human Services. It assists more than 1,200 recipients each season, from December through March. To qualify, you must fall within HEAP income guidelines.

Locally, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’ office at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road is once again an official NHF application receiving site. Applications are available at the office now and his staff will assist constituents in his district in completing them.

The NHF program runs until funds are depleted, so residents are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

“The winter is a particularly difficult time for low-income residents who must struggle to cover their basic needs,” said Cymbrowitz in a press release. “I am pleased that the Neighborhood Heating Fund is available to lend a much-needed helping hand.”

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ office is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, and until 5 p.m. on Fridays. You can call and make an appointment at (718) 743-4078 or just walk in.

Update (3:32pm): Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s office is also a designated application center for the NHF. His district office is at 2401 Avenue U. Call (718) 368-9176 to make an appointment.

Source: Flickr/rene-germany

Source: Flickr/rene-germany

Thirty percent of Brooklyn households lack high-speed internet at home, keeping residents from accessing crucial resources for school, work and business, with Kensington and Borough Park being the areas in Brooklyn most lacking when it comes to the digital divide, according to a new report from city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer’s report, “Internet Inequality: Broadband Access in NYC,” states that citywide, 27 percent of New York City households (meaning 730,000 homes) lack broadband internet, with 17 percent of households (533,000 homes) not having a computer at their residence. Bronx had the worst access compared to the rest of the city, with 34 percent of households lacking high-speed internet access, compared to 30 percent in Brooklyn, 26 percent in Queens, 22 percent in Staten Island, and 21 percent in Manhattan.

“New Yorkers who don’t have online access lack the tools they need to improve their education, employment and business opportunities,” Stringer said in a press release. “Just as the subway powered New York’s growth in the 20th century, high-speed broadband will power our City’s economic competitiveness in the 21st century.  If we are to remain the global city, we can’t allow our peers to speed by while New Yorkers are left on the shoulder of the information superhighway. Slow and steady does not win this race.”

Using data from the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey of households on broadband subscriptions and computer ownership, Stringer found that Kensington and Borough Park had the greatest number of homes, 47 percent, without high-speed internet access. Brighton Beach and Coney Island, had the second highest at 42 percent, and Brownsville and Ocean Hill had 40 percent.

As for the rest of Brooklyn, the percent of households without broadband connection at home are as follows:

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant – 38.7 percent
  • Crown Heights North and Prospect Heights – 34 percent
  • Bushwick – 33.4 percent
  • East New York & Starrett City – 32 percent
  • Flatbush & Midwood – 31.6 percent
  • Greenpoint & Williamsburg – 29.6 percent
  • East Flatbush – 29 percent
  • Crown Heights South & Prospect Lefferts – 26.9 percent
  • Sheepshead Bay & Gerritsen Beach – 25.3 percent
  • Bensonhurst & Bath Beach – 24.9 percent
  • Sunset Park & Windsor Terrace – 23.1 percent
  • Bay Ridge & Dyker Heights – 21.5 percent
  • Canarsie & Flatlands – 21 percent
  • Brooklyn Heights & Fort Greene – 17 percent
  • Park Slope, Carroll Gardens & Red Hook – 14.7 percent

Other findings included that individuals with a bachelor’s degree or more had far greater access to high-speed internet, with just 11 percent of college graduates lacking broadband access compared to 40 percent of individuals with less than a high school education.

The comptroller also noted that 27 and 26 percent of black and Hispanic households, respectively, lack broadband at home, compared to 21 percent of white households and 15 percent of Asian households. Younger people also appear to have greater access, with 21 percent of New York City youth (0-18 years) lacking broadband at home, compared to 45 percent of individuals over the age of 65.

Much of the lack of access stems from financial reasons, according to the report, with the Comptroller noting in a press release that consumers in cities across the country and around the world—from Seoul and Paris to Kansas City and Chattanooga—can spend less than $70 per month for a one gigabit connection, but the top speed available for most consumers in New York City is half the speed of those cities (500 megabits), at a cost of more than four times that ($299.99 a month).

Stringer’s report was released just before the Franchise & Concession Review Committee held a hearing on Monday on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to convert pay phones across the five boroughs into free Wi-Fi kiosks. While a number of civic and tech leaders have thrown their support behind the plan, others, including Stringer and the city’s borough presidents, previously criticized the proposal, saying they were concerned it would unequally provide high-speed Wi-Fi, with more attention being paid to Manhattan than Brooklyn or Queens – as well as allocating very few resources to the Bronx.

It does, however, appear that some of these concerns have been addressed in the interim between a Daily News report that said the mayor’s plan would shortchange poorer neighborhoods and yesterday’s hearing. The Gotham Gazette reported that, “a representative from Stringer’s office read a statement from the comptroller at the hearing which mentioned—without going into specifics—some ‘flagged issues,’ but including that his office was ‘working with City Hall to resolve’ them. He did not recommend voting against the contract.”

The Franchise & Concession Review Committee will meet tomorrow, December 10, to vote on the Wi-Fi plan.

Amen Hamdi (Source: NYPD handout)

Amen Hamdi (Source: NYPD handout)

Authorities are turning to neighbors for help in their search of Amen Hamdi, 18, a Bragg Street man who went missing on Friday.

Police say Hamdi was last seen at 10:00am on December 5. He was leaving his home on Bragg Street near Emmons Avenue wearing a black jacket with white stripes on the sleeves, a red shirt, blue jeans and blue and grey sneakers.

Hamdi is described as 5’7″ and weights 170 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Photo by George Burshteyn

Photo by George Burshteyn

Photo by George Burshteyn

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Flooding on Lake Avenue (Photo by Missy Haggerty)

Flooding on Lake Avenue (Photo by Missy Haggerty)

While a rainy day for most of us is just a pain in the neck, it’s an absolute hazard in the Sheepshead Bay courts – the bungalow colonies lining the eastern end of Emmons Avenue.

The below-street-level communities, which date back about 100 years, have long been prone to flooding. Neighbors are getting fed up, today sending us photos and video to illustrate just how bad it is.

Today’s nor’easter was forecast to bring about three inches of rain to the area. But due to runoff from the streets, Lake Avenue – a court just east of Nostrand Avenue between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway – was four inches under water by noon, according to resident Missy Haggerty.

“Flooding always happens during heavy rains. So do the other six courts,” said Haggerty. “It has gotten worse since [Superstorm Sandy].”

The problem is that the streets – which are pedestrian only and approximately eight feet wide – is not that they are just below the city’s street level, it’s that there’s no real drainage to speak of. There are small drains peppered throughout the blocks, but they go down into a shallow dirt well. They were never connected to the city’s system when it was laid out in the first half of the 20th century, also when streets were raised.

Another Lake Avenue resident, Ellen Chang, filmed the flooding as she attempted to take her dog for a walk. Without rain boots, the walkways are positively dangerous and her pup – not a small dog at all – is submerged nearly up to his chest:

Cheng said in the video that she was never informed of the flooding issue when she bought the house 14 years ago.

“I didn’t know my house had flooding like this when there’s heavy rain. All the neighbors are suffering,” she said.

Cheng and other neighbors are calling on the city to construct proper drainage connected to the city’s sewer system.

“I pay taxes. I have a right to a sewer system, and the government didn’t do anything,” she said.

“All we need is to just dig a sewer connection to Emmons Avenue sewer system. That won’t cost the city a lot of money,” she added by e-mail.

The problem is that the city considers these streets private – a justification they’ve also given for not replacing worn out street signs in the area – and in the past has claimed that residents need to band together and pay for it themselves.

The unique layout of the courts has also caused Sandy recovery issues. Build it Back chief Amy Peterson said at a Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting last week that the narrow streets, lack of vehicle access and close proximity of houses is causing delays in the construction process, and leading the agency to explore a neighborhood-wide approach.

We’ll be pinging city agencies to see if they have an approach in mind to address the ongoing flooding concern, and will update you when we hear back.

nypd-1

The 61st Precinct Community Council Meeting will meet at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, December 10, at YDE School, 2533 Coney Island Avenue.

The Community Council is comprised of concerned residents and top brass from the 61st Precinct, and offers neighbors an opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about crime and safety issues in the area. The monthly meetings are attended by the commanding officer of the precinct, who will present a report on incidents and trends in the neighborhood, and speak face-to-face with neighbors about specific concerns.

For further information, or if you have questions or comments concerning Community Affairs, call (718) 627-6847.