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3 vehicles set on fire in Queens; fire marshals investigating

By Jennifer Bisram

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — Three cars went up in flames in Queens overnight in what investigators say looks like arson.

Surveillance video obtained by CBS New York shows a person getting out of a vehicle and dousing what officials say may be gasoline onto three cars. A match is then lit, and one by one, the cars go up in flames.

“I heard like a bang … The third one was like a, not a gunshot, but an explosion. And it just went bomb and I ran out of the bed … And there it is, three cars on fire,” neighbor Amrita Bhagwandin said.

Police say it happened around 3 o’clock Thursday morning on 90th Avenue in Jamaica, while residents like Bhagwandin were asleep.

“I have been scared and this now makes me– I’m so nervous, I’m so scared,” she said.

People who live in the area say the incident is one of many crimes that has happened in the community recently. Now, they’re living in fear.

Additional surveillance video from January obtained by CBS New York shows a man breaking into one resident’s pick-up truck in broad daylight.

“Had a tool in his bag, he popped his trunk, picked up the bag and just rode off like nothing happened,” a neighbor said. “No care in the world.”

The break-in happened a block away from the car fires. Police are also investigating.

“This is very scary. I work a lot of nights,” a neighbor said.

According to the NYPD, major crimes are up in neighborhoods like Jamaica and Hollis — 185 this year compared to 182 the same time last year — but so are arrests –101 this year, 96 last year.

“These folks are not scared. They don’t care if there’s a camera or not a camera, they’re just stealing whatever they could get their hands on,” community activist Amit Shivprasad said. “If I get a chance to leave, I’m leaving. I’m not staying here longer past this year.”

Residents say they want more police patrols in this neighborhood, especially at night.

We reached out to the NYPD. In a statement, we were told, “The NYPD is committed to protecting all New York City communities and ensuring the safety of everyone who lives and works in them.”

We’re told fire marshals are investigating the car fires.

Meanwhile, the commanding officer for the 103 Precinct says a community council meeting will be held on Tuesday to answer questions and unveil safety plans for the area.

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