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NYPD cracking down on illegal mopeds after two officers shot trying to stop a crime

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Rocco Parascandola
New York Daily News

It’s become standard practice among New York City criminals — using illegal scooters, mopeds and ghost cars to commit crimes and quickly escape.

Early Monday, the growing problem came into sharper focus when a 19-year-old Venezuelan migrant rode his scooter the wrong way down a one-way street in Elmhurst, sparking a gunfight that ended with two NYPD cops wounded.

When police tried to stop Bernardo Raul Castro Mata he ran from two officers, then allegedly pulled a gun and shot and wounded both of them, police said, with one of the officers shooting him in the leg.

Raul Castro is suspected of taking part in several robbery patterns, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said.

But Castro Mata is from the only suspect being eyed for multiple crimes.

“Just to paint you a quick picture of how many of these crimes are being committed: Jan. to June 2022, zero robbery patterns involving motorized scooters or motorcycles,” Kenny said. “The same time period (in) 2023, 20 robbery patterns. Year to date so far this year…we have over 80 robbery patterns citywide involving incidents where the perpetrators are riding motorized scooters or motorcycles.”

The crimes vary, Kenny said, from gang retaliation shootings to organized theft rings but in many cases the suspects try to avoid detection by using stolen mopeds, scooters or motorcycles.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Mata is part of a larger crew of migrants, Kenny said, as was the case with Victor Parra, who in February was identified as the leader of a Bronx-based ring that employed thieves who used stolen mopeds and motorcycles to rob cell phones from unsuspecting victims and peddled their ill-gotten gains in Florida and South America.

Parra, who is from Venezuela, was busted last month.

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