Police officers warn Plandome Heights residents about rise in thefts from unlocked cars

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Nassau County POP officers Steven Krukowski, right, and Dan Hedgecock spoke with Plandome Heights trustees about the crime statistics in their areas and what to warn residents about. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Plandome Heights trustees met with Nassau County police officers during their monthly board meeting Monday, going over crime statistics for the village and what the residents should look out for this season.

Officers Steven Krukowski and Dan Hedgecock are the two problem-oriented policing officers designated to Plandome Heights as well as the other villages in the 3rd Precinct North, which covers from Little Neck Parkway to Glen Cove Road with Northern State Parkway as the southern boundary.

Krukowski said that, unlike many Nassau County police officers, they work with the mayors and school districts, including Great Neck, Roslyn, North Shore and Manhasset districts, to deal with quality of life problems.

Krukowski said crime has dropped in Plandome Heights compared with last year. The village has held even with no robberies in the past two years, as well as no felony assaults and stolen cars. The village had one residential burglary in 2016 and none this year through Sept. 15.

One grand larceny was reported to Nassau County police last year, and two have been reported this year, one of only two areas with increases.  Traffic violations increased from seven to 12 within the village.

Krukowski said he wants to warn residents about an uptick in thieves looking for unlocked cars.

“The biggest thing we’re seeing right now is larcenies from autos, and it’s completely 100 percent preventable,” Krukowski said during the meeting. “They’re not breaking into cars. These are unlocked doors. The problem is now everyone has keyless cars.”

According to Hedgecock, now that many cars are keyless, the key fob will be left in the car. However, when the keys are removed from the vehicle, many newer models will retract the side mirrors. If the keys are left inside, the mirrors stay in position and it is a red flag for those looking to burglarize a car or a home, gaining access through house keys or a garage door opener left in the vehicle.

Krukowski said three unlocked cars in Roslyn Harbor were burglarized over the weekend and many more have been reported across the North Shore in recent months, including a spree by two Manhasset juveniles who were arrested in October and charged with 10 vehicle thefts.

Hedgecock also said burglaries rise about 40 percent between November and January and that many of these burglaries are done in packs.

“Ninety percent of the time, houses are pitch black at 5:15 p.m. All they have to do is wait until someone pulls in, say around 7:30, and turns on the lights,” Hedgecock said. “They watch that twice, then they know they can hit these five houses in 20 minutes before the first cop can get to the first house.”

Hedgecock recommended residents leave kitchen lights on, as it is the main point of entry for home burglaries, or invest in automatic timers that turn lights on and off while the home is empty.

“They like hitting the sliding glass door by the kitchen. It’s nice and big and comes out of the tracks pretty easy,” Hedgecock said. “A lot of times people leave snow shovels around and they shove the shovel right underneath the bottom, lifting the slider up and out of the tracks, even if it’s locked.”

During the meeting, trustees also opted to table the vote on any no parking signs along Plandome Court South, which were discussed at the October board meeting.

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