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To Catch a Thief

Police Need Help From Residents to Collar a Criminal

Increased burglaries in Strathmore Village warranted a special meeting held at Town Hall on March 15. Civic Association President Pat Samella welcomed 6th Precinct Commanding Officer Steve Williams, Robert Browne, Problem Oriented Police (POP) and Officer Peter Chuchul.

Strathmore Village Civic Association Burglaries

First, Commanding Officer Williams sought to dispel rumors by saying since the beginning of the year there have been a low number of burglaries compared to other precincts. Residents, however, were uneasy with the burglaries and wanted information on how best to protect themselves, and asked what steps the police force was taking to protect their area.

Williams explained there are 24 posts in the 6th Precinct that are covered 24/7 in a variety of ways: assistance from headquarters’ Bureau of Special Operations; Directed Patrol, (DPA) whereby patrol cars are pulled for a few hours from a relatively quiet area and dispatched to one experiencing problems; or a plainclothesman in an unmarked car. Sixth Precinct patrol cars assigned to various areas of Manhasset are #608,9,10 and #615,16 and 17.

If you see something that doesn’t feel right, call 911, Williams advised. If the “meter man” went into the neighbor’s back yard and hasn’t returned in the usual amount of time, call 911.

Field Interviews are effective, he said, whereby if an individual seems suspicious the police conduct an on the spot interview, and should that same individual show up elsewhere under suspicious circumstances, a written record exists. He added that Manhasset is fortunate in that the town has limited activity by requiring permits. However, it is also true that criminals can manufacture reasonable looking ID to gain entry to homes.

Burglaries are committed by several types: kid down the block with a drug problem; gypsies, who pleasantly request a glass of water, say their car broke down etc.; targeted victims or “tag” persons, known to keep large amounts of cash around, often from their jobs.  Gypsies often target older couples.

Williams stressed the terminology, emphasizing that a robbery occurs when you are personally confronted; a burglary when you are not at home when the criminal steals your property.

To prevent being burglarized Williams suggested installing a metal plate inside the door so criminals cannot open them by applying force. Other suggestions made by the police for protecting your property appear in the accompanying box.

Problem Oriented Police (POP) Officer Robert Browne said the more valuables you have the more you have to lose and the more you have to protect yourself. Criminals are back to stealing TVs, he said, and homeowners advertise purchases by leaving boxes outside. Get a locksmith to make recommendations on how to make your home safer, he suggested. When residents complained they often see patrol cars parked at the Americana, Browne said they should notice the plate numbers, that that is a “booth” and most likely a series of patrol cars visit it, it is not just one that lingers there. He indicated many burglaries occur shortly after dark when the criminal can ascertain no one is home.

As their neighborhood backs onto the Americana and there were questions regarding the criminal element hopping the fence, Officer Brown suggested investing in a motion sensor, or outside lights with a pager inside.

In addition to setting out a large dog bowl by the back door the policemen recommend making your home as burglar proof as possible, notify the police as soon as you see something suspicious by calling 911 (don’t call the 6th Precinct as they take information, then they call 911), and be aware of your surroundings—neighbors must look out for each other. Communication is the number one factor, the police said, and they need your help to catch a thief.

Internet Neighborhood Watch

Carlo Massaro decided to do something to address the increasing number of robberies in his Strathmore Village neighborhood and created a 21 Century Neighborhood Watch Group on Linked—in. It is exclusively for neighbors “to facilitate the efficient dissemination of information related to the series of break-ins, attempted break-ins and suspicious activity that have plagued our neighborhoods.”

Traffic Concerns

Following the guest speakers the civic association discussed increased traffic flow on The Gate wondering if it was due, in part, to the relatively new Apple store. Diane O’Donnell, traffic technician for the town, was available to answer their questions about traffic flow. Complaints were registered about other Americana stores opening at noon on Sunday, yet at 9 a.m. cars are parked near Apple for computer classes. Lights, too, from the store are on all night, was a complaint, yet, ironically, it was believed that was to deter burglars. To install additional stop signs, it was said, to make Village Road less appealing as a “cut through” requires at least 50 signatures. And shrubbery, planted by the homeowner for privacy, also shields criminal activity and makes it more difficult to see Stop signs and to see around corners.

Helicopters

Residents expressed outrage by the noise from low-flying helicopters over their homes and claimed they have notified Senator Schumer’s office and other politicians to no avail. Anyone disturbed by helicopter noise is strongly encouraged to call 311 each time they hear it, every day if that is the case, or four times a day it that is the case, a resident said, because each call to 311 is recorded and will be used to determine the extent of the problem.