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Mini-crime wave has Ditmas Parkers on edge

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A bandit raided a Cortelyou Road restaurant on July 9 — the latest incident in a Ditmas Park crime spree that’s left residents and merchants on edge.

The suspected thief was caught on camera entering Picket Fence at around 6:30 am before leaving with two cash registers containing $2,500.

A surveillance camera recorded the teenage thief forcing the back door of the restaurant between Argyle and Rugby roads and rummaging through a downstairs office before finding the two cash registers on the main floor. The teen — who was struggling to hold his sagging jeans up — took one register outside and ripped out the cash drawer before going back in for the second register, the footage shows.

Restaurant manager Ram Bisht said he couldn’t believe what he saw when he reviewed the surveillance feed.

“I can’t believe how easy he made it look,” Bisht said.

This was the second time Picket Fence was burglarized in the last 12 months, Bisht said. The owner installed security cameras after the last break-in.

The brazen early-morning break-in is the latest in a rash of crimes to hit Ditmas Park in recent weeks.

A crook hit up the Connecticut Muffin down the block from Picket Fence. Thieves also ransacked at least three homes on Westminster Road between Cortelyou and Beverley roads, which is just two blocks away, last month.

Ditmas Park merchants said the uptick in crime did not bode well for the neighborhood.

“It’s concerning,” said Amy Besa, the owner of Purple Yam, which is two doors down from Picket Fence.

Police did not return calls for comment, but one merchant said cops from the 70th Precinct are addressing the mini-crime wave.

“We haven’t had a problem like this in a long time,” said the store owner, who did not wish to give his name. “But the consensus is we need more foot patrols. When you see some blue uniforms it gives you a sense of security.”

Bisht echoed those calls, claiming that the neighborhood was becoming an easy target for — as his surveillance footage shows — young, inexperienced thieves looking for a fast buck.

“I don’t see cops around here,” said Bisht. “This guy came in at 6:30 in the morning. It’s light out — bright light.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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