By Thomas Tracy
It’s amazing how two kids could cause so many problems. Cops from the 61st Precinct told members of the Madison Marine Civic Association last week that burglaries in the area dropped to nearly nothing after they apprehended two thieving teenagers, as well as a third suspect nabbed after he swiped a purse from a home back on February 22. Captain George Mastrokostas, the commanding officer of the 61st Precinct, said that the two – ages 14 and 16 – were apprehended last month after they allegedly committed a robbery on Coney Island Avenue near Avenue P back on February 5. When cops corralled the two teens, an officer noticed that one of the youngsters was wearing a watch that had been reported stolen from a home in the Madison-Marine area – a thatch of one or two family homes in the north-eastern end of Sheepshead Bay and Homecrest hugging Marine Park. Cops told residents that the two teens would scout out locations on a scooter and then force open easily accessible windows leading to darkened alleyways. Many residents told police that they recalled seeing the scooter. One Marine Madison Civic Association member said that she not only saw the scooter, but one of the teens when he noticed that she was looking at her scooter. “He [the teen] actually ran up and said, ‘That’s mine,’” the woman said. “That’s how I got a good look at his face.” “We were having a problem in the East 20s, but that started to change when we arrested those two teens,” Mastrokostas said, adding that out of the 27 burglaries that took place in the 61st Precinct in the 28 days leading up to March 9, nine of them had occurred in the three sectors that encompass the Madison-Marine area. “Thanks to community involvement, we sent cops onto blocks that they wouldn’t normally be on and we’ve gotten some positive results,” Mastrokostas said. Burglaries in the area began drying up after the arrest of the two teens. They continued to fall when cops arrested a sticky-fingered thief responsible for robbing homes as he went from address to address during the last snow storm, asking residents if they wanted their sidewalks shoveled. Mastrokostas said that the unidentified thief was arrested a few days after he showed up at a East 28th Street home on the morning of February 22. When a little girl opened the door, the thief asked if her mother needed her front walk shoveled. He then took the 28-year-old woman’s purse as he was left at the entrance of the home with the door open as the girl went to find her mother. The purse the woman stole was sitting on a couch near the door, he said. Cops apprehended him after they learned that he was using the woman’s credit cards in stores along Kings Highway. Mastrokostas said that the purse grabber had just been released from prison after being kept in custody for several days. “We’re going to be keeping an eye on him,” he said. As of March 16, the number of burglaries in the 61st Precinct had jumped by 21 percent, from 55 in 2007 to 67 this year, according to recently published CompStat statistics. The 61st Precinct protects residents in Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Manhattan Beach, Homecrest and parts of Midwood.