A Wantagh man was arrested on Nov. 5 in connection with a string of six burglaries in Seaford, according to Nassau County police.
Police identified the suspect as Daniel Lennon, of Atlantic Avenue.
The burglaries, which occurred between Oct. 25 and Nov. 5, prompted the Seaford Harbor Civic Association to call an emergency meeting on the day of Lennon’s arrest at the Seaford Public Library.
Association members met with representatives of the Nassau County Police Department’s 7th Precinct and elected officials to map out a response and to discuss concerns the crimes have raised.
Roberta Grogan, the organization’s community outreach representative, lives on Spruce Street, where two of the break-ins occurred. One took place on Halloween at about 3 p.m., and Grogan expressed concern about the potential danger for children returning from school.
Another burglary took place the following day on Maple Street, Grogan said. “The most alarming thing for me was the time frame,” she said. “I know burglaries happen all the time, but this was a clearly emergent pattern.”
Some residents caught the incidents on closed-circuit TV cameras mounted on their houses and reported them, Grogan said. “The detectives did a great job scouring the neighborhood . . . so it really was a collaborative effort,” she said. “But I have to say that I’m very disappointed in the school district.”
Grogan contacted the Seaford School District on Nov. 2, hoping to use the district’s Shoutpoint messaging service to send out blasts to families in the area. But according to Grogan, the first notice did not go out until Nov. 5, when Lennon was arrested.
During the search that led to his arrest, helicopters flew near one of the elementary schools, according to Grogan. Although NCPD squad cars patrolled nearby streets, the school did not go into lockdown. “It is a concern that really needs to be addressed, because the alleged perpetrator was
running less than half a block away from the school,” Grogan said of the lack of a lockdown.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder called Grogan to inform her of Lennon’s arrest.
Seafordites said they wanted local schools and the district to be made aware of criminal activity in the vicinity of the schools. And they questioned whether the district’s response had been robust enough.
Police told meeting attendees that not all crimes are reported directly to local schools, and civic association members and police discussed ways to improve communication between the community and the precinct.
After the meeting, Grogan still wasn’t clear on why the Shoutpoint message wasn’t sent out earlier. “But I hope that it changes in the future,” she said. “God forbid something like this happens again.”
“I really do feel the patrol cops and the detective squads that worked on it did a fantastic job,” she said. “But it was through cooperation with the community that it happened, and I don’t feel that we were really heard on that point.”
Wantagh Seaford Homeowners Association Vice President Chris Carini said that in general, Seaford has a low crime rate, so six burglaries in a matter of days attracted widespread attention. He suggested disseminating information quickly by way of email or text chains to PTA groups and civic and sports organizations, and said that a weekly crime report would improve communication as well.
“I’m very confident in what the Police Department does,” Carini said. “I think they do a great job . . . but I do think communication can improve.”
Seventh Precinct Inspector Thomas Corona said he believed that, overall, the police keep the community safe. He said he would take what was discussed to his supervisor and compare it with what the precinct already does to determine whether changes are necessary.
State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford, who attended the meeting, said it was good to hear what was going on in the community. Brooks said he wanted to sit down with Seaford Schools Superintendent Adele Pecora and Board of Education trustees to discuss communication.
Discussion of the school district’s role in community policing was taken up again at a Board of Education meeting on Nov. 7. Grogan pushed for more school involvement, and wanted to know why schools hadn’t gone into lockdown while Lennon was at large during school hours.
Pecora said that district security personnel had alerted her about the burglar’s possible presence, and that she called the 7th Precinct and was told of Lennon’s arrest. After conferring with the district’s Problem-Oriented Policing, or POP, officer on the afternoon of Nov. 5, she sent a message to all families in the area.
Board meeting attendees were told that the district would post its safety plan online and invite public comment for 30 days, but would not discuss its operational specifics.