Cops: We have the Clinton Hill catburglar

Cops: We have the Clinton Hill catburglar
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

Cops say they have arrested the man who climbed fences and jumped into backyards to break into Clinton Hill homes, fueling hopes that a spate of daytime burglaries is over.

Residents were on edge for almost a week after a young intruder struck at least four houses on the block of Gates Avenue between Waverly and Washington avenues, in some cases using a nearby community garden as an entryway to people’s patios.

The burglar even returned to one victim’s house for more.

“I was horrified,” said Kathleen Perkins, who lives on Waverly Avenue near Gates Avenue. “He came in without anyone seeing him, even though my house has security tighter than Fort Knox!”

The thief first struck on June 16 at about 10 am, entering an isolated, block-long alley between PS 11 on Waverly Avenue and Perkins’s house. He scaled a chain-link fence to gain access to her deck, which overlooks the Hollenbeck Community Garden, famous for its low security and its high-performance, solar-powered toilet.

From there, the thief broke into Perkins’s home, stealing a computer, camera, iPod dock, and a bottle of whiskey.

PS 11 is supposed to lock the gated alleyway at night. The school did not return our calls.

Perkins said that she knew the burglar returned the next day, because she found a gate to her house jimmied open.

Donald Fehr, who lives on Washington Avenue next to the garden, said that the bandit nearly broke into his home on Monday afternoon.

His girlfriend frantically called him around 2:30 pm when she saw a skinny arm reach over the fence that separates his yard and the garden. She shrieked and the burglar disappeared.

“It was a shock because this has been such a safe neighborhood,” Fehr said. “I never really locked the doors — now I will.”

An officer at the 88th Precinct confirmed that a 21-year-old man from Bedford-Stuyvesant was arrested in connection with the burglaries. Police believe he was acting alone, but his rampage through the neighborhood was extensive, including stealing three Apple computers from a house on Waverly and Gates avenues on June 18; and attempting to plunder another house at Gates Avenue and St. James Place this week.

Police caught their suspect on Thursday morning, after he allegedly attempted another neighborhood heist, but fled after a woman screamed.

“We’re in the midst of a one-man crime spree,” said Suzanne Debrango, a member of the Washington Avenue/Greene Avenue Block Association, shortly before cops nabbed a suspect. “This guy is all over the place, and he’s trying to hit as many places as possible.”

Perkins said that she was outraged because one of her neighbors saw the incident but didn’t call the police.

“We can’t rely on the cops to keep us safe,” she said. “We have to look out for each other.”