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Photo courtesy of NYPD
Photo courtesy of NYPD
The vehicle pictured is believed to be involved in a criminal mischief/grand larceny pattern in Ridgewood.

UPDATED Jan. 10, 9:30 a.m.

After weeks of frustration from dozens of local Uber, Lyft and Juno drivers whose cars have been broken into in Ridgewood, police are finally narrowing in on a suspect.

The 104th Precinct released photos and video that show the perpetrator and the getaway vehicle, a silver 2016/17 Nissan Altima with damage to the front left bumper and hood. The victims made police aware of the getaway vehicle during a Dec. 27 meeting about the break-ins, where they also described the crook’s patterns.

As of Jan. 10, police confirmed that there have been a total of 57 incidents of reported broken windows on vehicles since Dec. 23, 2017. The break-ins have all taken place in the region between Myrtle Avenue to Flushing Avenue and Forest Avenue to Cypress Avenue. Fifty-six of the 57 incidents involved vehicles with TLS license plates, police said, and six of them have involved the theft of credit cards and/or electronics.

At the Dec. 27 meeting, the victims gave police several pieces of information about the perpetrator’s habits. One driver, Kirolos Kamel, was able to obtain a surveillance video of his friend’s car being broken into. When he played the video for QNS, it showed the perpetrator pulling up in a car before getting out to break into the victim’s car. The perpetrator broke the small triangular section of the rear window — the part that doesn’t roll down – and reached inside to unlock the door and gain entry. After rummaging around for a few seconds, the crook returned to his own vehicle to flee the scene.

According to several more of the drivers, that small section of the rear window was broken on their vehicles as well. Many of them also said that Grove Street seemed to be the hot-spot in the spree, which is darker than some of the surrounding streets.

A similar video released by police from a location on Seneca Avenue shows the perpetrator exit a light-colored four-door sedan, approach a black 2017 Toyota Camry with a TLC plate and use an unknown object to break the rear driver-side window. No property was removed in this case, police said.

District 37 Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who said she lives on Grove Street close to the break-in pattern, also attended the Dec. 27 meeting and offered her support to the victims.

“We’d be very happy to talk to Community Board 5 about the lighting issues,” Nolan said. “There are things that we can do to support the police department and support all of you.”

Detective Charlie Sadler  of the 104th Precinct was joined by officers from the detective squad and special operations unit, who explained in more detail how they planned to patrol the area. The officers stressed, however, that it is going to take time due to the nature of the crime. Most of the incidents are taking place in the middle of the night, so unless someone calls 911 while the thief is being seen in the act, the police may not be able to respond immediately if there are more urgent calls the next day.

The police encouraged the drivers to stay diligent and patient, and report anyt suspicious activity they see. To help dissuade the perpetrator, the police also recommended that the drivers not leave any valuables in their cars, take the GPS holders off their windshields and try to park in better lit areas.

They also assured the drivers, who are all from immigrant communities, that they have no reason to believe the perpetrators are targeting them for their race or anything other than their TLC license plates.

The suspect is wanted for criminal mischief and grand larceny, and police encourage anyone with information regarding the pattern to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

 

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