The 112th Precinct held a special public safety meeting on Tuesday to address concerns over recent burglaries in Forest Hills.
Since Feb. 5, nine burglaries have occurred in the residential area bordered by Metropolitan Avenue, 70th Avenue, Fleet Street and 69th Avenue.
“Two and a half weeks ago at a community council meeting, there were a handful of people who had been burglarized and they all had a lot of questions,” the precinct commander, Capt. Thomas Conforti, said. “So I thought that if this small number of people have questions, the rest of the neighborhood will probably have questions too. That’s why we are having this meeting, so that I can answer your questions and calm everyone down.”
Though Conforti couldn’t reveal specifics, he did say that detectives have several leads that are being worked on. Based on the similarities of the break-ins, he said they believe that the burglaries are connected and are most likely being committed by a team of two or three people.
At least 100 concerned residents, some of whom are victims of the burglaries, attended the meeting. Many of them wanted to know how to best protect their homes.
“I’m not going to mention specific alarm system companies but many of them are not as efficient as you may think,” Conforti said. “I think the best way to monitor your home is video cameras. If a burglar sees a house that has video cameras, they’re going to think twice about breaking in.”
Steve, whose last name has been omitted for safety, said he agreed with Conforti.
“Cameras are the best thing,” he said. “My office was robbed last Saturday and we have 20 minutes of footage of the guy in my office, using the bathroom and spraying the fire extinguisher. It’s a clear image of the guy, so it should be easier to find him.”
Another suggestion made by Conforti and his colleagues is to get a steel front door, as burglars tend to target doors made of wood that are easier to break down.
Conforti, who has dealt with burglaries for 21 years, assured residents that he and his officers are doing everything they can to catch the perpetrators.
“It’s been 15 days since something has happened,” he said. “And that is due to all of the plainclothes cops, patrol cars and neighbors who have been on the lookout for things. Forest Hills is a strong neighborhood and is one of the few places left where people still care about what happens. It is our job, as police officers, to build a strong partnership with you all.”
Sgt. Claudia Bartolomei, who heads the detective squad at the 112th Precinct, told residents that her team is working hard to catch the burglars but also said it is important for the community to be proactive as well.
“It’s good to have pictures of your jewelry and sign up your valuables to receive a serial number,” she said. “That way, in the event it gets pawned or turned in, we can recover it faster.”
“The most important thing for you all to do right now is be aware of your surroundings,” Conforti said. “Everyone knows their neighborhood and your neighbors are the biggest asset you have. Burglary is one of the hardest cases to solve. You have to catch them in the act and the only way for that to happen is if you are aware of what is going on and call 911 if you see something suspicious.”