In an effort to reduce car break-ins in the 106th Precinct community, the precinct commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, recently launched a new program meant to alert car owners about the risks they take when giving thieves an easy view of their valuables.
Called “Spot It to Secure It,” the preemptive measure targets areas in the precinct where car break-ins have been prominent.
A team of four officers patrol on foot looking into parked cars to see if the owners have left valuables in plain sight. The officers snap pictures and mail the photos to them, reminding them not to leave belongings in their cars. Cops have also placed fliers informing residents of the program on car windshields.
Schiff said that he wants the car owners to know that if the cops spot something, so could a potential thief. The program’s first area was Ozone Park, between the Conduit and Liberty Avenue and 78th Street to Cross Bay Boulevard. According to precinct sources, since the patrols started on Jan. 29, officers have spotted 25 cars with valuables left inside.
Schiff initiated the program last year as commanding officer of the 76th Precinct in Brooklyn. He said it reduced car break-ins there by 49 percent.
Schiff said the additional benefit of the program is that many cops will be patrolling individual blocks deterring crime.
“We have cops walking up and down your block,” he said. “Who’s going to complain about a cop walking on your block?”
Frank Dardani, president of the 106th Precinct Community Council, said he feels that it is very important for people to be part of the solution to fighting this problem because most of it is fueled by people being neglectful.
“If we want to be part of the solution then we have to take some responsibility,” said Dardani.
Rita Pristina of Howard Beach, whose car has been broken into three times, called the program “a wonderful thing.”
However, she said that she would also like to see it done at dusk and overnight because this is the time she has seen suspicious individuals peering into cars.