A group of people walked through Whitestone at midnight, checking for unlocked car doors as they went through the area. They found 62 open vehicles. In them were electronic devices, designer glasses and $3,000 in cash. But the group wasn’t there to steal anything. They were cops urging people to lock their cars.
“We did what the bad guys are doing,” Detective Kevin O’Donnell said.
The 109th Precinct is undertaking a midnight prowl to check for unlocked cars to raise community awareness about leaving their cars unlocked and leaving valuables inside. And they began with Whitestone on Oct. 24. The initiative started after police received calls from victims who had their belongings stolen from unlocked cars, according to O’Donnell. Police plan on doing the same thing in other neighborhoods in the precinct.
“There are people coming to neighborhoods like Whitestone just to check for unlocked cars and steal whatever they can,” O’Donnell said recently during a Queensborough Hill Civic Association meeting. He urged residents to lock their doors even if their neighborhood – like Whitestone – is generally safe.
Cops say they are careful not to touch anything inside the cars. If a car is unlocked, the police will lock it up and then put a piece of paper that looks like a ticket under a windshield wiper. The leaflet instructs people to make sure their doors are locked.
“There have been many arrests all over the [109th Precinct] for this stuff,” O’Donnell said, noting that police have arrested two suspects so far. “Hopefully we prevented people getting their stuff stolen.”