A recent rash of burglaries has local residents of communities usually known for their peaceful, safe nature looking over their shoulders. So far, break-ins number in the double-digits, and frightened locals are demanding action from the authorities to bring security back to the area as soon as possible.
Areas affected by the burglaries have included Manhasset Hills, Herricks, Albertson and Searingtown.According to Nassau County Third Precinct Commander Sean McCarthy, the incidents that have a community trembling collectively in fear began with the onset of the fall season.
“There have been 18 burglaries since the beginning of September in the area ranging from the city line to Roslyn Heights, and along the Long Island Expressway (LIE) to the Northern State Parkway,” he said. “There were seven burglaries over the Columbus Day weekend alone. We believe these crimes to be organized and patterned to some degree, and this isn’t the first time this has happened. In 2009, there was a similar series of incidents.”
McCarthy noted the majority of the burglaries had taken place between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. He said none of the homes broken into were occupied at the time (and thus, no injuries have been reported), and most of the break-ins consisted of rear entries where typically a sliding glass door was forced open.
A Robby Lane resident of Manhasset Hills, who asked not to be identified, was a victim of one such burglary, which took place on Oct. 4. Since then, and through the incidents that have taken place since in the surrounding community, she hasn’t felt safe in her own home and doesn’t expect to for quite some time.
“We were in and out all day…at one point we may have left the garage door open, we’re not sure,” the woman said. “When we got home at 11 o’clock at night, my husband noticed that an envelope of cash was missing from his dresser, and I discovered that all of my jewelry was gone.
“Since then, I haven’t slept in about a week,” she continued. “I always feel like somebody’s in my room. I’ve already disinfected and cleaned everything, and I’m always checking to make sure that my windows and doors are locked. It’s such an uneasy feeling…I don’t want to be here in case they come back, but I’m afraid to leave.”
The Robby Lane victim noted that her home was not vandalized, and that electronics such as televisions and computers were not stolen. The police, she said, informed her such devices can be easily traced and burglars opt for easier targets such as cash.
“Such knowledge is cold comfort however,” she said.
Michelle, a Manhasset Hills resident, said that neighbors of hers located on Aspen Street were victims of a burglary on Oct. 11. That such a thing could hit so close to home was deeply unsettling, she said, and rumors of inadequate police presence to combat the threat only served to heighten her fears.
“We drove by their house at 8 p.m., and we noticed the police were there,” she said. “We asked them what happened, and they said that someone had climbed up their fence and gotten in through a window.”
Michelle said there were several robberies reported in the area that night, and “we were hearing that there weren’t enough police officers available to handle them all. They clearly need to hire more police. It’s terrible. We’re actually afraid to leave our own houses.”
Commander McCarthy said Third Precinct would be stepping up their efforts on several fronts. He also addressed concerns among residents that the precinct may be lacking the raw manpower to effectively canvas the large area affected.
“We had previously already increased our patrols but after the Columbus Day weekend, burglaries have increased our patrols in the affected areas dramatically, both in terms of marked and unmarked vehicles,” he said. “If you ask any commander of a police precinct if they have enough people to do the job, they’ll almost always say no, but we have recruited members of the Bureau of Special Operations [essentially Nassau County’s version of SWAT] for our undercover patrols. Some marked cars will be stationed near the LIE, and there will be lots of plainclothes patrols in the neighborhoods.”
McCarthy suggested a number of tips that residents can utilize in order to keep their families safe and assist the police in possibly catching wrongdoers trolling their neighborhoods.
“First, if you have a timer on your exterior lights, adjust them to account for the fall season…it’s getting darker earlier,” he said. “Plus, if you have an alarm, use it. They don’t guarantee that you won’t be burglarized, but there have been several failed break-in attempts thanks to the fact that the home’s alarm went off.
“And if you see anything suspicious, anything at all, always call 911 right away,” McCarthy said. “Even if you might end up accidentally reporting one of our undercover units in the process.”
Upon hearing of the recent crime wave, local citizens have been pulling together to get the word out. Herricks School District Board of Education President James Gounaris said that the school district has been doing all they can in that regard.
“Once we were notified that it was our neighbors and friends being affected, we sent an email notification to all the residents on our email list to make them more vigilant and more aware,” he said. “I also contacted a large senior group, because the seniors don’t really work with email that well, so they can start notifying all of their members through their telephone chain.”
Juleigh Chin, a Manhasset Hills resident and trustee on the Herricks Board of Education, had started an email notification service five years ago amid a similar series of break-ins to keep locals abreast of any issues facing them. These emails are now more than ever, she said, a vital pipeline of safety information for residents.
“The emails are a way of keeping the community informed and safe…anytime something occurs in the area, we get the word out to our neighbors,” she said. “Personally, I still feel we are relatively safe, but we are in a vulnerable area due to our proximity to the cityline…I just wish we were less of a target by having more police presence in our area right now. It would make the community members feel more at ease as well.”
Anyone in the greater Herricks area wishing to sign up for the email list can contact Juleigh Chin at firstname.lastname@example.org