2016-11-02 / Features

Cops: Lock & Unload Cars To Foil Crooks

BY LIZ GOFF

Police officials at the 114th Precinct are again urging area motorists to remove all valuables before they park their vehicles and walk away.

Dep. Inspector Peter Fortune, Commanding Officer of the 114th Precinct, has issued several urgent pleas so far this year, to motorists who insist on leaving electronic devices such as laptops, mobile phones, other gadgets and wallets in clear view inside parked vehicles.

“We can’t leave our electronics, we can’t leave our wallets unattended in our cars, particularly when they are unlocked,” Fortune said. “Doing so makes it too easy for thieves to enter vehicles, snatch valuables and run off before anyone realizes what they’ve done.”

Astoria’s “top cop” is also reminding motorists to be especially careful during the approaching holiday season, when crooks prey on people who leave shopping bags, unwrapped purchases and valuables in clear sight in their vehicles.

Precinct officials are eyeing the practice as a reason for a recent increase in grand larcenies in the command. Statistics show there were 14 grand larcenies in the area between September 26 and October 23, up from eight such incidents during the previous month. Thirteen of those recent crimes involved the theft of electronic gadgets and wallets from parked, unattended, often unlocked vehicles.

Fortune explained that the command has been plagued by the auto-related grand larcenies since the start of 2016, despite increased enforcement and public outreach. “It just continues,” he said.

Police arrested a suspect on October 18 in connection with the auto-related thefts, Fortune said. The suspect is an older career criminal with a history of 40 arrests – most for auto-related crimes.

“This gentleman, believe it or not, just drives around on a bicycle and breaks into cars,” Fortune said.

Auto-related grand larcenies have dropped significantly in the 114th Precinct since the man was arrested, and only one such incident has been reported since the arrest, Fortune said.

Fortune is urging the public to take advantage of a wide range of crime prevention programs offered free of charge by the NYPD by calling the 114th Precinct Crime Prevention Office at 718-626- 9324 or the Community Affairs Office at 718-626-9327.

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