For the past month, there has been an outburst of car break-ins in West Maspeth.
“It's a recent rash,”said Rosemarie Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together (COMET).
Throughout the summer, thieves have broken into several cars. A New York City Police spokesperson said that in the 28 days preceding August 8, there were five reports of larceny for vehicles. Stolen items included iPods, GPS systems, and cash.
The spokesperson also said that there were eight reports of criminal mischief, which entailed broken car windows.
According to COMET, the break-ins usually happen early in the morning around 3 a.m. Recent alleged thefts have occurred on Maspeth Avenue, 60th Street and 59th Road. Another recent incident occurred on 59th Drive off of Fresh Pond Road in Maspeth. There, nine cars were broken into.
“Windows were smashed in and cars were robbed of radios, money, loose change, anything this creep could take with him,” said one resident.
According to the resident, a witness on the block heard the glass shatter, and when he looked out the window, he saw a guy on a bike peddling away. “They broke into my neighbor's van looking for expensive tools and equipment which they took also,” the resident said.
According to Daraio, the thieves are after anything that they can get their hands on, including GPS systems, EZ Passes, and loose change.
Daraio believes that there is one way to prevent the thefts.
“The main thing to stress here is that people should leave absolutely nothing in their cars,” she said.
She said some residents have tried to hide their personal items, but to no avail. Even if a GPS system is in the glove box, thieves can still see where the GPS attaches to the car by suction cup rings that are left on the windshield. Other residents suggested covering items with a blanket, however, that sends out a red flag to thieves that something is hidden.
“It's opportunity crime, and we need to take away the opportunity,” Daraio said.
Daraio urges residents to bring their valuables inside their homes. “No one will break in [to the cars] if nothing is there,” she said.
In addition to the stolen items, damage is inflicted upon the cars. Thieves have smashed in car windows forcing residents to leave their cars unsecured.
According to Daraio, West Maspeth does not usually see theft of this sort. “It has been going on in Glendale and Ridgewood,” Daraio said. “But now it's in my neighborhood, in Maspeth and in Elmhurst, and I take offense to this.”