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Smash And Grab: Is Your Car Next?

Nearly a dozen vehicles burglarized in Westbury before Christmas  

One or more criminals likely landed on the naughty list this Christmas as 10 vehicles in Westbury were burglarized during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. 

Between Saturday, Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 23 at 2:30 a.m., the Nassau County Police Department reported the break-ins, which took place at the Applebee’s parking lot on Corporate Drive, Fulton Street and Drexel Avenues and on Post Avenue. 

Detectives said that two vehicles in the Applebee’s parking lot had windows broken and a video game system and computer were reported stolen. 

While parked at Fulton Street and Drexel Avenue, four vehicles had their windows shattered and various items of clothing removed, police said. 

Another four vehicles parked at The Winner’s Circle at 39 Post Ave. reported broken windows and items stolen, including wallets, handbags, cash and credit cards. 

“We’ve had similar types of incidents during the summer and we’ve asked the police department for increased patrols. My understanding is that most of what was targeted was pocketbooks to get cash. 

“We’ve put out advisories telling people not to leave valuables in plain view in their cars and certainly not to leave their cars unlocked,” said Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro. 

The village’s code enforcement unit patrols the neighborhood throughout the week, though Cavallaro said NCPD officers need to be present in order to effectively prevent car break-ins. 

“We’re going to have our code enforcement personnel make sure they’re present in the neighborhoods. It really is a police function to prevent this kind of thing but we have our code enforcement as sort of a deterrent to these types of incidents,” Cavallaro noted. 

The 3rd Precinct reported that 11 non-residential burglaries were reported in a 28-day period between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2012, compared to six in 2011, an 83 percent increase. While more incidents were reported this year compared to last in that time period, non-residential burglaries were down nearly 10 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. 

Chris Munzing, Nassau County District Attorney’s communications director, said the sentences for burglaries vary by degree – burglary in the third degree is up to seven years in prison, second degree up to 15 and first degree up to 25. 

A 3rd Precinct officer said the burglaries “may be related to the holidays but could be due to a multitude of reasons” and that no previous incidents or patterns were recorded. The officer said the investigation is ongoing and detectives ask anyone with tips to call 1-800-244-TIPS (all calls remain anonymous). 

The Westbury area represents a centralized destination for shopping and dining around the holidays, and the mayor reminded consumers to use common sense when storing valuables in their vehicles. 

“If you take things out of plain sight, you’re less likely to have your car broken into,” Cavallaro said. 

According to Jeff Horan of State Farm Insurance on Post Avenue, comprehensive coverage covers theft in cases like the recent string of vehicular break-ins. 

“A homeowner’s policy covers up to 10 percent of your personal property off premises. The damage and if the car is physically stolen is all covered under comprehensive for your auto policy and any personal items in the car are covered under your homeowner’s policy,” said Horan, adding, “Say you have 100,000 in personal property coverage on your home, you’re covered up to $10,000 off premises anywhere in the world. 

Horan, who is also the vice president of the Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce, noted that the effects of Hurricane Sandy might have played a role in the burglaries.  

“This time of year people go shopping and go out to dinner and other people are targeting the cars. Everything that went on with the storm has made people somewhat desperate – or maybe just brought out the worst in some of us,” said Horan.