After a series of break-ins to homes and cars in the Larchmont Gardens neighborhood, concerned residents met with police at an open community meeting on Thursday, October 29 at the Weaver Street firehouse.
The meeting was a result of inquires made by Nancy Bressler, a “recent transplant from New York City,” whose car had been broken into last year. She was concerned that some people hadn’t heard of the break-ins and were leaving their doors unlocked. “I felt, let’s all get up to speed together.”
Around 25 residents and Town of Mamaroneck Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe showed up for the meeting, led by Town of Mamaroneck Police Detective Lt. Jerry McCarthy with contributions from Det. Thomas McDermott and Det. Jason Florkowski.
Burglar Focused on Expensive Jewelry, Laptops
According to the detectives, there did seem to be an increase in home burglaries, with six break-ins taking place September and October. Five were in homes off of Weaver Street and may be related, explained Det. McCarthy, while one with a “totally different M.O.” was on Palmer Avenue.
The robberies occurred when the residents were not home, as is usually the case with burglaries in this area. In some cases the burglar(s) entered through an unlocked door or window. In others, they either forced open doors or windows or broke glass to enter via a window or to access a door knob. In several instances, the police recovered window screens at some distance from the home. They speculate that the thief removed the screen and then hid nearby, entering the home after there was no response.
Once in the home, the burglar ignored costume jewelry, taking only more expensive items and laptops that were in view. In one instance, the crime occurred within a 90 minute window while the family was out to dinner. In other cases, the family was away for the weekend.
Among the stolen items listed in police reports are: three pieces of jewelry worth $15,000 from a Barnum Road home on September 27; $7,000 in jewelry and a $1,500 Macbook from a Cooper Lane home on October 11; a $3000 laptop from a Byron Lane home also on October 11; and $900 from a Homer Avenue residence on October 12.
Police were not able to recover any finger prints or other DNA evidence from these crime sites. They explained that because the point of entry was an outside door or window screen covered with grime it is difficult to obtain usable finger prints.
There is an active investigation ongoing, which is being conducted jointly with police departments in neighboring communities.
Det. McCarthy noted that last year, through diligent surveillance work, police were able to arrest a career criminal, Keith McBride, responsible for a similar string of home burglaries throughout Westchester County. (See: Arrest Made in Recent Burglaries.)
Despite the recent rash, “overall burglaries have been cut in half compared to last year, largely because of the arrest of Keith McBride,” said Det. McCarthy. That case goes to trial this month.
Car Break-ins May Be Work of One Criminal
The police feel that many of the car break-ins are also the work of a known career criminal, who has a drug habit that fuels his activity. From October 5-9, seven cars parked in or near Larchmont Gardens were entered, and the thief took off with 6 GPS devices, an iPod and an iPhone.
The suspected thief was recently rearrested on a separate matter. “Nothing has happened for over a month now,” said Det. McCarthy.
Simple Steps Can Help Prevent Break-Ins
In addition to providing an update of recent activity, the police gave advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. Here is a list of the top things to keep in mind.
- Keep all shrubbery trimmed so as not to provide cover for a burglar to hide in
- Install outdoor lights with motion sensors around your house. The lights should be installed high enough so that they burglar cannot reach them to unscrew a light bulb.
- Use timers on lights inside the house when you are not home so that your house is lit at night.
- Stop delivery of mail and newspapers when you are on vacation
- Notify police when you go on vacation. With your permission, they will check on the exterior of your home while you are away.
- Install and alarm system and make sure to arm it every time you leave your home.
- Lock doors and windows.
“It made me feel better to have that meeting,” said Ms. Bressler the following week. “It was empowering to know what was going on and that you can take simple steps that may prevent break-ins.” She added, “The police were very forthright and very willing to help – and that was empowering too.”
Det. McCarthy was also satisfied with the meeting. “I enjoy finding out what your perceptions and interest are,” he said. “It gets me a feel of what you’re looking for – how we can help you feel safer.”
Abby Katz lives in Larchmont Gardens. Judy Raab contributed to this article.