A few days after several hundred people attended last week's Levittown Property Owners Association meeting to question police about the recent rash of burglaries and vandalism throughout Levittown, two arrests were made.
According to 8th Precinct officers, Brian Coles, 18, of Hempstead, and Danis Benavides, 16, of Westbury, were seen in the rear yard of a home on Greenbelt Lane.
Bureau of Special Operations Officers apprehended the two while they were riding bicycles on Carman Avenue in Westbury. After an investigation, officers reportedly found the homeowner's laptop computer in the defendants' possession.
Coles and Benevides were charged with one count of Burglary 2nd Degree and were arraigned on Feb. 13.
8th Precinct P.O.P. [Problem Oriented Police] Officer Dave Rysdyk said he made one of the arrests; however, they are unsure if these are the same individuals responsible for several other break-ins.
Officer Rysdyk, a Levittown native himself, said he was on patrol the day prior to the arrests.
"I went by all the houses that were burglarized to try and see if there was a common thread," he explained. "At first I thought they were all Levittown Capes, but two were different. There are some shrubs on the side where you can't see from the front."
According to Nassau County police, 10 homes were burglarized between Jan. 16 and Feb. 10 in the area between Division Avenue and Bellmore Road, just north of Hempstead Turnpike. Cash, electronics and jewelry have all been reported stolen.
Other incidents in the area have been reported as well. The morning after the meeting, LPOA Secretary Daphne Rus said she received a call from a Blue Spruce Road resident who said he awoke to find the house across the street covered in graffiti. Legislator Dennis Dunne, Sr. added that residences on Blacksmith Road were also victims of graffiti recently.
Meanwhile, just across Hempstead Turnpike, several Harvest Lane residents reported their car windows smashed on Feb. 8.
The front window at the Levittown Post Office on Gardiners Avenue is boarded up; however, an employee told the Tribune they "found it when they came in one morning."
"We don't have anything concrete on that," he said when asked if it was a result of vandalism.
Several people at the meeting said they have lived in Levittown a long time and have never known of a situation this extreme.
Levittown resident Rich DiNapoli said his Birch Lane home had been burglarized on Jan. 16.
He said he and his neighbors are now patrolling the neighborhood themselves looking for suspicious activity during the timeframe the burglaries seem to be occurring.
However Commanding Officer of the 8th Precinct, Inspector Allen McGovern advised that if people see any suspicious activity, they should call 911.
Officer Rysdyk and Deputy Inspector Joseph Barbieri also attended the meeting.
Officer Rysdyk said the police department utilized the Bureau of Special Operations Unit, a countywide unit dispersed to problem-oriented areas. This bureau consists of plain clothes officers in unmarked cars.
"We also have directed patrols, where post cars are taken off normal duties for a couple of hours a day and are sent out looking in the area," he added. "The helicopter has also been up there a couple of times."
One resident said her three daughters, who sleep on the second floor of her home, were scared.
"I was so upset when I heard that," Legislator Dunne said. "I never want to hear that."
Dunne, one of four generations in Levittown, said the meeting was "extremely well attended by very caring, concerned residents."
"I want to make sure the quality of life is the highest in our community," he added. "I am going to protect it. I am going to fight as hard as I can for the men and women in this community because they're my friends. We have to protect these people and keep them here. And the new people that have just moved in because Levittown is wonderful, I don't want them to turn around and leave."
Legislator Dunne held a meeting on Feb. 18 at Division Avenue High School, along with members of the Nassau County Police, to set up a neighborhood watch program.
According to a Town of Hempstead spokesperson, the town would provide neighborhood watch signs.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilman Gary Hudes, Legislator Dunne and the 8th Precinct are also holding a joint meeting on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Levittown Hall to further discuss the creation of a neighborhood watch program.