Car issues reigned supreme at the 63rd Precinct Sector A Build the Block meeting, held on Thursday, March 23rd at Temple Sholom, 2075 East 68th Street. Sector A covers Mill Island, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach.
Car thefts were one of the top crimes in the sector and precinct this past month, largely because people leave their cars unattended while still running or while the key fob is nearby. Fobs keep cars unlocked if they’re within a certain proximity to the car, so leaving it inside or near the vehicle while no one is in it can lead to thefts.
Another common cause of car theft is leaving a car on while running into a store or into the house, even if only for a few minutes. Officers advised residents against doing so.
Neighborhood Coordination Officer (NCO) David Belkin added that car thefts often increase during May and June, especially for BMWs. He said the thefts usually start in Mill Island and spread throughout the precinct from there.
Catalytic converter thefts are another crime popping up often in the area. Belkin explained that drivers who find their converter stolen should report it to the police instead of just replacing it themselves.
“If your catalytic converter is stolen off your vehicle, a lot of people are telling me, ‘Hey, my catalytic converter was stolen,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Okay, did you make a report?’ and they say no, they already got it fixed,” Belkin said. “That’s really letting us help you guys, honestly.”
By making a report, it allows the police to look into the theft and prosecute the person who did it. The police report can also be shown to the car insurer for financial help in getting a new converter.
“If you hear any sawing in the middle of the night, 2 o ‘clock in the morning, it’s definitely suspicious,” Belkin said. “A hundred percent suspicious.”
Additionally, the 63rd Precinct offers catalytic converter etching. Once etched, a converter can be tracked if stolen.
One attendee brought up the issue of cars speeding on the Belt Parkway by Mill Basin. That issue is handled by highway patrol, not the NCOs, but Belkin said he has experienced the issue firsthand while driving home to Long Island from work.
“I drive home at 11:30 at night every day and at least two nights a week I almost get slammed by one of those cars,” he said.
And, of course, the abandoned cars, trailers and carriers were the primary quality of life concern for the community, as usual.
The precinct aims to conduct one large towing operation per month, and 34 cars and trucks were towed in last month’s operation. Despite this, many abandoned carriers and trailers are still left over, taking up parking spots and becoming an eyesore on the streets.
Belkin explained that the officers try to tell the owners to move their industrial or commercial vehicles to the industrial area on Strickland Avenue to avoid being ticketed, but not all owners have been complying.
As a result, some of these vehicles have been racking up tickets for not being moved every seven days, but registered and licensed vehicles can’t receive much more punishment than that.