Nassau County police are building a case against a man they think committed as many as eight burglaries in the Munsey park area within the last few months.
In a presentation during the village’s board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, Inspector Sean McCarthy, the commanding officer of the Third Precinct, said police are researching other crimes in the area for which they may be able to connect to their suspect.
The suspect, he said, is currently in police custody in New York City. Because the investigation is ongoing, McCarthy declined to disclose the suspect’s identity.
“He’s been arrested like 35 times now, so he knows well enough that it’s not in his best interest to cooperate with us,” McCarthy said. “We’ll probably only end up charging him with a couple of the incidents, but that would be enough.”
In the last few months, a number of Munsey Park homes have been burglarized, and thieves have also broken into unlocked cars and stolen wallets and other items.
On Feb. 7, police said a home in Strathmore was broken into, but the suspect fled after a 75-year-old woman heard a loud noise and ran down the stairs.
Despite the recent crimes, McCarthy said he does not know for certain whether crime has increased in the village. Munsey Park, he said, is one of the safer areas within the precinct’s command, which stretches from east the Queens border to the Wantagh Parkway and from the Long Island Sound to as far south as Hempstead Turnpike.
The village typically has a lower crime rate than most of Great Neck, he said, though it is often more victimized than Port Washington and other North Shore peninsula communities because there are fewer exit roads on which criminals can escape.
Because Munsey Park has more roads and consistent through traffic, McCarthy said, the village will always have a higher crime rate than neighboring villages Plandome, Plandome Heights and Plandome Manor.
“The tough thing about this neighborhood is you take two steps off the main road and you’re invisible,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy suggested residents use the 9-1-1 system to report a crime, rather than call the Third Precinct directly.
“We can’t track calls that come into the Third Precinct desk,” McCarthy said. “When you call 9-1-1 the operator gauges how immediate your emergency is and it’s placed in a queue for response, but if you call the precinct, it may never get that far.”
McCarthy compiled a list of precautions residents can take to prevent future burglaries, suggesting they lock all doors, windows and cars and use outdoor lights after dark. The full list has been made available on Munsey Park’s village website.
“You’re never going to make your house burglar-proof,” he said. “But It’s like bear country where you can still do a lot to scare them off.”
Village of Munsey Park Mayor Frank DeMento also said the board may consider installing surveillance cameras near village entrances for further security.
Trustees said they have also begun discussing the implementation of license plate readers that they said organize criminal data more effectively than surveillance cameras.
“It’s the kind of thing where, when one village has it, other surrounding villages start to get them to protect themselves,” Trustee Susan Auriemma said. “These bad guys aren’t smart, eventually they do get caught, but they will go to another village.”
Auriemma also said she has submitted a first draft of a new village newsletter that would be given to residents who have recently moved to Munsey Park.
The redesigned newsletter would include a list of village services and ways residents can get involved with its various committees, in addition to a guide to navigating Munsey Park’s village boards, laws and various restrictions.
“I definitely think some of the language will have to get revisited,” she said.
Prior to McCarthy’s presentation, the board approved two local laws that prohibit residents from leaving basketball hoops within the village right-of-way and would give trustees the ability to exceed the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap in formulating its 2014-15 budget.