Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 25 February 2011 00:00
For several months now the generally quiet and peaceful Great Neck community has lived under a cloud of worry and concern, as a string of residential break-ins leave people unsettled and police continuing a full-time, all encompassing search. Several cases of a man breaking into occupied homes, mainly in the areas near where the Village of Great Neck and Kings Point lie adjacent to one another, led to intensive searches and the resulting discovery (through DNA samples) police said, that the suspect is a dangerous man who was responsible for a vicious attack on a woman in Hempstead and the rape of a 2-year-old girl in Texas.
Last Wednesday evening, Feb. 16, for the second time, the Kings Point Civic Association hosted an evening of police reports and question-and-answer time at Kings Point Village Hall. Leading the discussion were the civic association’s president Marsha Rotman, Lt. George Banville of the Kings Point Police, Nassau County Police Sgt. Michael Fitzsimmons, and a representative of the alarm/security company servicing Village Hall.
Noting a recent Great Neck Record follow-up article on the break-ins and how this has changed residents’ daily routines, Ms. Rotman said that at the last meeting there had been hope that the suspect had fled the area, but then a week later there was another break-in. She said that the quiet of the last month could well be due to the “horrendous weather.”
Ms. Rotman asked why the blinking Crime Stopper sign on Steamboat Road had been taken down and she wondered if this meant that the police had given up. Sgt. Fitzsimmons said that the sign had been taken down since there had been no recent “activity,” but he assured that the search has not been halted and the sign could be put up again.
Sgt. Fitzsimmons added that all leads are followed up. The suspect has been tracked leaving a crime scene, on foot, through Kings Point Park to Steamboat Road, where the police dog lost the “scent.”
Lt. Banville reported that fliers (over 3,000), in English and in Spanish, have been handed out in the Steamboat Road area. Police have also “knocked on doors,” he said, walking day after day, for several hours each time.
And in addition, the police officers said that they have gone out to all areas where the suspect might have been, including trains stations, buses and bus stations, “all over Nassau County.”
Both officers informed the public that, to some degree, the federal government’s ICE officers (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have been involved, coming to the area for specific reasons. And both officers also reported that plenty of people in the area, people no one would expect would “talk,” have been forthcoming with information.
Asked for advice, Lt. Banville, who stated that most of the houses in the area are alarmed, offered the following: check doors and windows (and re-check); keep lights on sensors; “light up your home … they don’t like lights.”
Sgt. Fitzsimmons reinforced that police are here, in the area, working on this case. He said that “someone is in the woods (Kings Point Park) all the time,” and, as well, a police search dog and a helicopter are in the area, on stand-by, at all times.
Admitting that the police really do not know if the suspect is still in the area, Sgt. Fitzsimmons assured that “we are still up and running.” Steamboat Road, he said, “is the target area.” Steamboat Road, with its multiple housing buildings, is an area with “immigration issues,” he added. Although it is difficult, legally, to just enter such dwellings, the police have been able to gain entrance into “a lot” of those houses, according to the sergeant.
Lt. Banville and Sgt. Fitzsimmons spoke of how the Kings Point police and the Nassau County police are working together to solve the crimes.
Asked about home security video cameras, the police officers said that those, too, have been checked. A representative from the village’s security system company said that video technology is constantly changing, and he reported that Kings Point is working towards video cameras at all points of entrance/egress to Kings Point. Everyone coming into and out of the village will be caught on camera. The new technology will “read” license plates.
With so many probing questions facing the police, Lt. Banville ended the meeting saying that the police cannot tell the public everything. However, he and Sgt. Fitzsimmons did advise all residents to report any incidents to the Kings Point police or to the Nassau County police in areas outside of Kings Point.
Kings Point police may be reached at 482-1000.
Nassau County’s Sixth Police Precinct may be reached at 573-6652. Crime Stoppers may be reached at 573-7236.
To reach Marsha Rotman at the Kings Point Civic Association: KPCA11024@ gmail.com