In Hewlett Harbor, a recent “uptick” in the theft of upscale vehicles pushed village officials to request a meeting with Nassau County police to discuss the problem.
Hewlett Harbor Mayor Mark Weiss said the increase has occurred over the past two months in the village of 1,263. “We’ve also had multiple cars stolen by what the police believe to be an organized group doing this,” Weiss said at the Seawane Country Club on Oct. 15, though he declined to specify how many cars had been stolen.
Joseph Barbieri, commanding officer of the NCPD’s 4th Precinct, said the stolen cars were “high-end” and included a number of Mercedes Benzes, Audis and BMWs. “The crimes are being investigated, so we are restricted to disclose some details about them,” he said. “But I can say that every single car stolen in Hewlett Harbor was unlocked and the key fob was in the car.”
Barbieri added that surveillance video that police have viewed showed people opening unlocked car doors and driving the vehicles away.
NCPD Detective Vincent Garcia said the rash of stolen cars is not confined to Hewlett Harbor. “I don’t have actual numbers off the top of my head, but I can confirm that there’s been an increase in high-end stolen cars countywide,” he said. “The biggest problem we’re seeing is that in almost all cases, vehicles have been left unlocked and fobs or keys left in them.” NCPD reported on Oct. 24 that there have been 396 auto thefts in 2019. This is a 18 percent increase from 2018.
Barbieri emphasized that residents should keep their cars locked, regardless of where they are parked. “I know some people feel they shouldn’t have to lock their cars when parked at their house,” he said. “But you have to make sure your car is locked. We’re trying to help you, but I need you to help us as well.”
In addition to the car thefts, there were also two recent burglaries in the village.
The first one happened on the night of Sept. 24. Jeffrey Raymond, commanding officer of the NCPD’s Major Case/Auto Crime unit, said that a house was burglarized the night of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York’s South Shore dinner at the country club. “The bad guys were parked by a stop sign, which caused a traffic jam after the event ended,” Raymond said. “The house was completely dark, and the burglars walked along the fence line to avoid being seen by security cameras.”
The second incident, on Sept. 30, was categorized as an attempted burglary, according to Raymond. “A window was broken and the perpetrators then fled the scene,” he said. “You should keep in mind that if you see a car parked on the street that you don’t recognize, call the police.”
Raymond offered suggestions on how to ward off would-be burglars. “What I do at my house is have a television running on the first floor and keep a couple lights on the second floor,” he said. “That will frighten the burglars from even looking at your house. The street lighting will not scare them away, but the lighting in your house can stop them.”
The peak time for burglaries is from sunset to 8:30 p.m., Raymond noted. “The burglars will not want to go to your house past 8:30 because you or someone else will most likely be home,” he said. “The last thing they want to do is break into a house with people in it.”
Weiss added that residents should alert the village when they plan to be away for an extended time. “Whether you’re away for two days or for the winter, please let us know,” he said. “We will communicate it to the 4th Precinct, and they will send cars to your house on a regular basis when you’re away to check in.”
The village, Weiss said, has worked to improve security in the past few months, and he urged residents to take part in the Operation Private Eyes initiative that was launched in May. The program offers residents a discount for the Ring Doorbell 2 home security camera. “We’re not trying to scare anybody here,” Weiss said. “We just want to discuss what each of us, as residents, can do to help reduce crime in our village.”
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Updated story reflects statisitics that were reported by NCPD on Oct. 24.