Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 11 December 2009 00:00
Third Precinct Inspector Kevin Canavan, in a packed auditorium of the Herricks Community Center, met with the residents of Manhasset Hills and surrounding areas to further discuss the rash of burglaries that have taken place in those neighborhoods.
At the meeting, sponsored by the Herricks PTA presidents, Inspector Canavan began by outlining his experience and education. He said he has been with the police department for 25 years. He has a master’s degree from Fordham University and is currently working on his doctorate degree.
He said, “On the practical side, I have been with the department for the past 25 years and I have four brothers who are all firemen, so I’m the black sheep of the family, being the only one in the police department. But, I have throughly enjoyed my 25 years with the department. I have worked in the patrol end. It’s rewarding. Right now I am the Commanding Officer of the Third Precinct and hopefully that will last for a little while. So, I’m here to talk about anything you’d like to talk about but I do know that burglaries are a big concern in this area.”
One resident wanted an update on the crimes in the area and Inspector Canavan said, “I’ll be flat out honest with you. We have had an issue in the area for a couple of months now, but it more or less peaked on Friday, the 13, of November. On that day we had seven burglaries throughout the command, but not just in that area. I have never seen anything that bad. The last one we had was discovered about 11 p.m. and we spent three hours that night putting together different plans and a different approach.
“We have special patrols out, we have plainclothes guys out and we put a lot of manpower toward this problem, but we just weren’t getting the results that we wanted.
“The next morning I was on the phone with Chief of Patrol Bob Turk, who is my boss, and I laid out all different strategies and sat down with him on both Saturday afternoon and Sunday and we decided on a new plan.
“Basically, what we did, and without getting into too many numbers, I pulled six guys from the night tours and six guys from the day tours and put together my own, very beefed-up in-house task force. I reached out to the Special Operations, they are the plainclothes guys. We also got more of the Emergency Service Units, which are the motorcycle patrols and we really went on the attack.
“Now, each one in this “task force” comes together every day and puts together our plan for the day. The numbers range, and we go by car posts, and for us it’s about five car posts. What we did was spread these guys out and each one has very specific areas they are responsible for. Not just responding to alarms, but observing any suspicious persons in the area. Basically, what we are trying to do is cut off escape routes.
“The other part of what we are doing is informational. To give you an example, without violating anyone’s civil rights we are basically stopping and questioning everybody that comes through the area. Every day, on a daily basis the guys are bringing their own digital cameras and when we stop someone who doesn’t belong in the neighborhood, with their consent, we take their picture. We ask what they are doing in the neighborhood and we are taking plate numbers.
“Plus, we have a couple of stationary cameras in the area and we have some roaming cameras in the area and we brought in three “plate readers” in order to get the plate numbers of those in and out of the area.
“The information that we are getting is on who the contractors vehicles and landscapers vehicles are in the neighborhood. In fact, I can pretty much tell you who cuts whose lawn in the area because we are watching and logging everyone into our database.”
Inspector Canavan continued, “Recently, two landscapers were seen loading two flat screen TVs into their truck. It turns out that the owner of the home had given them the TVs.
“We were happy that we knew what their next stop was and if you think about it how easy is it to walk to the back of a house with a big green garbage bin, break into a house, load up the garbage bin and leave.
“We invite people into our neighborhoods. We invite landscapers in, housekeepers in, contractors and while they may be very reputable we don’t know who they hire, whether it’s on a per diem basis or people they get to work for years.
“We have seen a dramatic decrease of burglaries in the area but what we are seeing is that they are spreading out to other areas in the Sixth Precinct and further. Which to us is a bittersweet resolve. We are in the area and they know we are in the area. It’s a success, kinda, but we don’t have anyone in cuffs at this point.”
Inspector Canavan then went through what residents should do if they see anything suspicious in their neighborhood. First of all he stressed to call 911 right away. He stressed that call would not be bothering the precinct as some folks think it is.
Inspector Canavan also said that the times that most of these burglaries occur seem to be between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and then there is another surge between 6 and 6:30 p.m. He also pointed out that rainy, windy nights seem to be extremely vulnerable since these burglars know that the police are busy with false alarms, downed trees and other emergencies.
One resident asked what could be done to prevent being burglarized and he said to find a neighbor who you really trust and rely on each other. Also he said to remove all jewelry and cash from the master bedroom. He added, “In almost all of the instances, only the master bedroom is ransacked.”
He also pointed out that Verizon has been in the area, but they supplied a list of the people who are in the area to the police. Anyone coming to your door to sell candy or magazines, must first register with the police station to obtain permission to come into the area. He said, “If you are at all suspicious, don’t open the door and call 911.”
The inspector also said that from September 1 to December 1 there were 3,900 calls regarding suspicious activity which was a 2.7 percent increase from last year. Further, police issued 55 percent more moving violations, which is a way to check whether those people belong in the neighborhood and there was a 218 percent increase in field interviews and calls in by police for tracking. There was also a 247 percent increase for case reports filed for unusual activities. Inspector Canavan said, “My concern is that the increase in calls does not match the increase of police activity for those two months and the residents themselves need to help by calling in more suspicious activity to the police.”
The inspector also told the following story, “A woman arrived home to find a man at her front door. She asked him what he wanted. He asked if a woman by the name of Lucille was home. The homeowner said that no one lived there by that name and he walked away. She questioned him further and he called someone on a Nextel Walkie-Talkie and he was picked up immediately and drove away. She never reported the incident to the police, nor got a plate number and as it turns out a neighbor who lives about 100 houses away was burglarized about an hour later. The house that was burglarized was able to get a plate number, but didn’t know what they looked like, but the first did know, so the police were able to piece together some information, but have no solid proof of anything.”
Inspector Canavan said it was extremely hard to catch a burglar in the act. He said that in his 25 years he had only caught one and that was because the burglar was extremely high and fell asleep.
He said to make sure to register with the police station if you are going away for the holidays and in that way they can go check on your house.
There is also a POP Officer (Problem Oriented Police) in the area, Nick Mosesso, and he can be reached by calling 573-6370.
Inspector Canavan said that it’s good to keep lights on in the back yard, in the house and to keep alarms on as well.
“The police are being vigilant in this neighborhood and we feel certain with all of the increased surveillance we will see results in the very near future,” Inspector Canavan said.