Nov. 4, 2014 By Christian Murray
This morning Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and his staff were handing out posters at the 46th Street station in Sunnyside calling on the public for information concerning the robbery of an 81-year-old man at the Chase Bank ATM at 46-10 Queens Blvd.
The photos of the two suspects released by the police were grainy and some residents who reviewed the posters could barely make out their faces. “You really don’t see anything; maybe I can see this guy,” said one woman, who is a former member of the Sunnyside/Woodside Lions Club.
Kate Flanagan, whose grandfather William Eichhorn was the victim, said: “I am so upset and horrified by the quality of the images.”
“This is an enormous bank—with billions of dollars–and that is the quality of their cameras,” Flanagan said. “We have blurry images of these cowards… now they may get away with it and attack someone else. It’s disgusting.”
The attack occurred inside the ATM area at about 9:30 am on Sunday Oct. 26. The suspects punched Eichhorn in the face and fled with $100 and his debit card.
The footage released by the police—who obtained it from Chase– just shows photos of the suspects’ backs. There are no photos of the suspects as they came in or out of the bank, which led to questions whether the bank has exterior cameras at all. Meanwhile, there are just two cameras inside the ATM area.
Van Bramer, who told attendees at a press conference this morning how Sunnyside and Woodside are close-knit safe neighborhoods, said afterward that he is looking into legislation that would require banks to regularly review the quality of their cameras to make sure that they are transmitting top-notch images.
“I would like to see clearer images and I would expect a bank of this size to regularly monitor the quality of their footage,” Van Bramer said. “We don’t know when their cameras were installed–it could have been 10 years ago for all we know.”
Van Bramer said that people are particularly at risk when they are taking out money from the ATM. “When someone follows you in [to the ATM area] with the intent to cause harm, you are extremely vulnerable,” he said. However, at the same time, “there is also this presumption of safety in a bank that there are cameras.”
Van Bramer said that his office got funding for the NYPD to put a security camera outside Duane Reade on the corner of Queens Blvd and 48th Street. He said that the footage from that camera is first rate. Therefore, he believes that there must be better technology available to banks.
The branch manager at the Chase branch would not comment as to the age of the cameras surrounding the ATMs and how often they are checked. A spokeswoman for JP Morgan Chase’s Consumer Banking division was not immediately available for comment.