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Two Men Attempt to Steal E-Bike from Bel Aire Diner, Attack Employee

Suspect outside Bel Air Diner (NYPD)

Jan. 7, 2019 By Christian Murray

The police are looking for two suspects who attacked a man with a knife after he stopped them from stealing a deliveryman’s electric bike from the Bel Aire Diner last month.

The suspects allegedly tried to remove a secured electric bike from the rear of the 31-91 21st St. diner at around 3:25 a.m. on Wednesday Dec. 19, police said.

An employee, a 25-year-old man, observed the suspects and intervened. One of the men pulled out a knife and slashed the victim in the leg and torso. The two suspects then fled empty handed, one on foot and the other on a shiny blue scooter.

The police have released footage of the man on the scooter. He is described as Hispanic and last seen wearing a light-colored hooded shirt.

The victim was transported by EMS to Elmhurst Hospital with non-life threatening lacerations.

Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-8477, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit


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The area below 21st is the poorest (not including the housing projects) and least convenient area of Astoria. It is not dangerous per se, but it is closest to the projects, it is relatively dark and lonely both day and night. Most of Astoria, contrastingly, is busy day and night.

The area is both industrial and residential, with many small businesses and trucking. The housing stock is mostly older unrenovated turn of the century 2 and 3 story wood frame houses. Fire, imo, is an issue, more so than crime. These are old buildings with old wiring not meant for modern demands.

The inhabitants (not including the projects) are a mix of older white generational Astorians and recent 1st generation immigrants from South America and India. These immigrants tend to live in over crowded circumstances which tax the infrastructure of the old buildings. This and the nature of the buildings leads to an above average fire threat. Fires often occur. Majorily, these three groups are relatively poor.

The remaining inhabitants (not including the projects) are a mix of Americanized Asians (1st and 2nd generation) and an ever growing population of Transplants (including a small portion of black Transplants) which is gradually bringing change to the area.

The housing projects are at the furthest reaches below 21st St nearst the river. The population consists of mostly blacks and non-South American hispanics, I believe Puerto Ricans mostly. This population being the most isolated frequently and consistently transists the area to reach, public transportation, schools, and shopping. So, while you can avoid the projects themselves, you cannot avoid the population. To my observation the population is non-threatening in behavior and action.

There is little in the way of amenities in the area. There is a small shopping center at 21st and Broadway where you’ll find a supermarket, post office, rite aid, laundry, and diner. There’s also a white castle, subway, and a nearby mcdonalds. Other than this you’ll have to hump it up Broadway in and around the subway to do most of your shopping and hump back.

The area is not a ghetto, but before the onset of the Transplants, was certainly a depressed neighborhood of poor whites and hispanics. The overall condition of the area and housing reflects this. The standard of the housing and the shops was or is below average. The supermarket specifically used to be atrocious, something only to be found in ghettoes. Fortunately, as a result of the demands of the changing neighborhood, a couple of years ago, it underwent a major renovation and cleanup. Now, it is a fairly decent place, but the goods still reflect the neighborhood poor; though it is gradually catering more to the new Transplant population.

All of the above is what leads to the relatively affordable rents, generally the lowest in Astoria.

Safety is only an issue in that the rest of Astoria has a traditional prejudiced and negative viewpoint due mostly to the area’s proximity to the housing projects. You’ll rarely find any long residing resident of Astoria have anything positive to comment.

The real issue to safety is more perception, and is quite understandable, notwithstanding the projects, ‘the walk’ to and from the “N” subway line is relatively long. Most often there is a stream of people walking from the subway down Broadway to 21st Street. Once at or across 21st St, you’ll probably be alone walking down dark lonely blocks. The danger is more perceived than actual. Though, if something were to occur, below 21st would be good grounds for a predator to prey. Usually, for example, there is only one or two people walking on a block at any given time. Often, you may be the only one. That said wait 10 minutes and some one WILL come walking.

That said, to date, I have found it surprisingly safe! As the Transplant population and the Asian population grows, street foot traffic grows correspondingly. Morning to evening 21st Street which used to be dead and desolate is now a relatively busy corridor morning to evening. This is due mainly to the many new buildings built along the corridor in recent years, as well as a few below and above 21st Street.

These buildings have attracted a more upscale and mostly young resident with an increasing street prescence. People walking to and fro, the shopping center, subway, and even jogging.

So you s/b relatively alright, as long as you are aware of where you are (no matter what neighborhood or area—you’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!); keep your head up, particlarly at night; don’t walk around sloppy drunk, as too many Transplants do, inviting trouble; and mind your business.

Commuting is either the walk to the Brodway N subway or by bus to the Queensbridge subway stop on the F line. The bus runs down 21st toward Queensboro Plaza. If you choose this route then this is the ONLY contact you would have with the Queensbrige housing project; as Queensbridge is I’d approximate 1 and a half to 2 miles down 21st from Broadway. Uneffecting the immediate area near Broadway toward Astoria Blvd/Vernon Blvd.

BTW, I would NOT recommend returning by way of the F train and bus after rush hour. The subway station after rush hour and especially late night is desolate. It is one of the few with a one man police station at the end of the platform. Which imo is not an indication of safety, but of the potential for danger at night. The station is deep underground and quite isolating. It is relatively busy during the day and during rush hours, and is relatively safe during these periods. I would not use the station nor wait for the bus across the street after 7 or 8 pm.

That said there are other projects and subsidized housing, other than Queensbridge, as mentioned, below 21st and just a couple blocks before Broadway. To my native NYer eye these projects are as benign as it gets! You can walk by and NOTHING will occur. Now if you’re a white transplant looking for drugs, who knows, whatever happens happens. BTW, there are some leftover whites still to be found in these buildings.

That’s about it. If you move into one of the near luxury buildings along 21st most of the above is mitigated. If you move into one of the crappy little buildings on a dead side street, then the above is your reality. I’d say its the best circumstance for those living at the lowest level of Transplant affordability. The tradeoff is the isolation

Sara Ross

I was born and raised in LIC (Ravenswood) in the late ’50’s/early ’70’s and Queensbridge hasn’t changed. You would think after all this time somebody would want to change things.

Iam Dunn

Not shocking anymore to read articles like this. What’s more shocking is the price people pay to live in Astoria and the projects are around the block.


I’m with you. I can’t remember the last time I walked out of my building in Astoria without a barrage of bullets whizzing past me.

My bags are packed and I’m moving to Imaginationland—the neighborhood that doesn’t exist, where there is absolutely no crime at all. Not even random non-life threatening (albeit unfortunate) robberies like this one!


Seems as though you have your own formulated opinion hidden behind sarcasm. I wasn’t knocking the neighborhood due to crime issues, I was simply stating it’s not shocking with the projects being so close and the prices keep going up


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