The ramifications of Hurricane Sandy have extended to new car owners in Howard Beach according to Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, Commanding Officer of the 106th Precinct.
A recent wave of rim thefts has recently struck car owners on the new side of community according to Pascale who says his precinct has handled at least 5 rim thefts over the past couple of weeks.
Thieves are targeting 2013 Honda Accords in particular, stripping the autos of expensive chrome and aluminum sport wheels and rims.
“The tremendous influx of new vehicles in the wake of the storm has attracted thieves to the neighborhood,” Pascale told The Forum.
The Inspector says that the thefts are occurring primarily between the hours of 4 and 5 a.m. when things are quiet and mostly everyone is asleep.
“They work in crews of 3,” explained the Inspector. Their crimes are facilitated by the fact that most of the streets are one ways and the thieves only have to monitor one direction. “One guy acts s a spotter and two others get to work on removing the wheels,” Pascale explained. “And if they see someone coming down the street they flash their lights or give some kind of other signal to their cohorts so they can tuck themselves out of sight until the person or vehicle passes by. Then they go back to work.”
These thefts are not new to the area and most recently Lindenwood was experiencing the same type of incidents with late model Accords, Nissan Maxima’s and Toyota Camry’s. But this activity, the Inspector feels, has definitely been sparked by the fact that so many people in Howard Beach had to replace their cars and that the Accord was a very popular purchase.
“We really feel bad for these folks,” the Inspector stated. “Most of them have lost their entire homes or a good part of them and now they have to go right back to their insurance companies and file another claim. It’s really very unfortunate.”
Pascale said that some of the vehicles reported over the last week were so new they still had their temporary registrations on them.
Police are not sure if the cars that are being targeted are to fill certain orders or just to stockpile the expensive parts for future sales. A complete set of rims for these vehicles and others like them can range anywhere from $1200 to $2000 if purchased at a retail outlet. On the street the same package of rims may only cost the purchaser $500. “People should be aware,” Pascale warns that you can get in a lot of trouble for purchasing these stolen articles.”
There are definite, effective steps that owners can take in the line of prevention according to police. To begin with they suggest you park in a well lit spot. Another tip is to purchase an alarm system that comes equipped with a sensor that will sound the alarm if anyone moves the car. They also recommend investing in wheel locks which make it that much more difficult for thieves to get the wheels off the car.
In addition to the theft of rims, police from the 106 also made an arrest on February 12 of a 19-year-old male who was found inside a late model Mercedes parked in the driveway of the owner. The suspect made his way into the car about 4 a.m. and was spotted by someone who called the police.
“These bad guys will break into your car and grab anything that you have left behind,” says Pascale. “Sunglasses, loose change, credit cards, cash, CD’s and of course any portable electronics like cameras or GPS systems.” The Inspector went on to say how unbelievable it is that so many people leave their vehicles open or leave cash and valuables, especially credit cards in their vehicles.
We urge everyone to try and take as many steps as possible to prevent these types of crimes and asks that if you see something or your car is broken into that you call police immediately.