The Freeport Police Department’s efforts to reduce larcenies of vehicles during the holiday season have been canceled until further notice and a review of the policy by the village’s legal department, according to Mayor Robert Kennedy.
“I was informed that the police did not enter or inspect the vehicles,” Kennedy said. “but rather placed a warning letter on the front seat while their body cameras were active.”
The department started the “Lock it or Lose it” initiative on Dec. 4 and canceled it three days later, Dec. 7. The cancellation came after a number of citizens, including Jennifer Winters, vice president of the South Freeport Civic Association, were alarmed that the efforts were wrong and or even illegal.
“It was concerning. It almost felt like a violation of privacy,” Winters said. “I think because there was no warning I feel it was invasive and they could have gone about it in a different way.”
Winters also shared the FPD could have easily connected with the village’s civic associations and other community organizations to raise awareness of the larcenies within the village.
“Through the civic associations,” Winters said. “We want to be able to develop lines of communications with our police department so we can alert our neighbors of what’s going on in our streets.”
An alarming 80 percent of the auto larcenies in Freeport result from unlocked car doors, according to Kennedy. To date, Kennedy said approximately 48 larcenies have been because the car was left unlocked.
There were approximately 61 cars notified through the “Lock it or Lose it” initiative and of those cars, one car had its keys in the ignition and was visibly seen from the outside. Kennedy said the keys were taken out of the ignition and returned to the owner and also added that leaving keys in the ignition is a violation of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law code, but no summonses were issued.
Winters also shared hopes the Freeport Police Department could speak during a planned meeting at the South Freeport Civic Association meeting for February or March 2019 to answer questions from community members.
Freeport Police Department Chief Miguel Bermudez could not be reached for comment.