Parked cars on Bay Ridge streets have been having a hard time in recent days.
Several car break-ins were reported around the neighborhood, with items stolen ranging from electronics to loose change left in the vehicles. In addition, there has been some vandalism, with car mirrors smashed earlier this month on 68th Street.
Community Board 10 has gotten several callsover the past three monthsabout blocks where numerous cars were hit, said Josephine Beckmann, the board’s district manager.
“From the end of May till now, we’ve gotten about seven calls,” Beckmann reported. “Usually,” she added, “when someone calls, it’s more than one (car). In circumstances like that, we let the police know and tell them to file reports.”
Often, however, the latter isn’t done, she added, despite the fact that “these are reports that the commanding officer wants to know about, because how can he direct resources to a problem area that he doesn’t know about?”
Many of the reports called into CB 10 referred to incidents on Ovington Avenue, 67th Street, 68th Street and 70th Street, “scattered around,” generally between Colonial Road and Fourth Avenue, Beckmann said.
One resident, who lives on Marine Avenue, between Third and Fourth Avenues, reported that his car was broken into in his backyard, and his GPS had been stolen from his glove compartment, around 7 a.m., the same day as the annual Night Out from Crime.
“I don’t know how they got into my car, but they didn’t break a window, and I know I locked the car the night before,” the resident said.
While the police recommend wiping off the circles left on windshields by GPS mounts, to avoid alerting potential thieves that the car may contain a GPS, the resident said his GPS is handheld so the person who broke in, “Just took a crap shoot. It’s like we’re going back to the ‘80s.”
Another resident, who lives on 82nd Street, between Ridge Boulevard and Colonial Road, had his car broken into in the early morning hours when it was parked in front of his house. His iPod and his “good luck change” were stolen, the resident said, noting that he was afraid it wasn’t an isolated incident.
A few days earlier, “A neighbor saw people looking into another car on the block,” and three nights later, a car parked on 82nd Street, near St. Anselm’s Rectory, had its window smashed, the resident said. In the latter case, “They didn’t take anything,” the resident reported, “because someone saw them.
“I put my car in the driveway now,” the resident added. “I never did that. I never needed to. Now, the first thing I do each day is go out to make sure my car windows aren’t broken.”
However, Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, denied that the precinct was having a major problem with car break-ins and vandalism, noting that “Felony crimes are way down for the year,” and “burglaries are way down for the year.”
In an interview with this paper, Rodriguez said that he had gone back three years and looked at the precinct’s records, and that there had been, “No major spikes. When they hit one block, they hit four or five cars. It’s been kind of the same amount of cars each year that do get hit. I believe it’s going on all over the city.”
As for what has occurred recently in the precinct, he said, “We are well aware of what’s going on. We do track it. We have briefings each week on it. We look for pockets, we look for patterns, we look for clothing descriptions.
“There was a cluster a couple of months ago, but it slowed down,” Rodriguez added. In fact, he said, since January, a total of seven people had been “arrested for damage to an automobile.” In addition, one person was charged with grand larceny (because the property theft exceeded $1,000) and two people were charged with “Taking property under $1,000 from an auto. A lot of the arrests were linked to over 60 car break-ins,” he said.
The precinct continues to press on the issue, Rodriguez added, warning residents to be careful about leaving valuables in their car in plain sight, or leaving their keys in the ignition while they run into the store “for just a minute.”
The precinct will also follow up with purchasers of stolen merchandise, Rodriguez said. “We are doing some reverse sting operations. If you’re caught buying any of the property (that has been stolen), you will be arrested.”