With auto break-ins spiking, Astoria precinct boss warns residents to safeguard their vehicles

break in
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Though the 114th Precinct has seen a decline in most major crime categories in the last 28 days, the captain is telling Astoria residents to stop leaving cash and electronics in their cars.

According to Captain Osvaldo Nunez, the commanding officer of the 114th Precinct, there has been a 9.3 percent increase in grand larcenies from Jan. 31 through Feb. 27. There were 59 such crimes during this time period compared to 54 in the previous 28-day period.

NYPD data shows that there were 23 instances of unattended property thefts, 20 identity theft crimes, eight instances of a person snatching a valuable item and eight auto break-ins. Though the break-in numbers seem small, Nunez said it represents a spike.

“People continue to leave their cars unlocked or they lock them but they leave their laptops, cash, other electronics in there,” he said. “The best way you can protect yourself is don’t leave any valuables in your car.”

The crime is identified as a grand larceny if the perpetrator steals $1,000 or more in cash or items worth that amount. Nunez said a victim left more than $2,000 in her car and another Astoria resident left car keys inside the vehicle.

The eight break-ins occurred mostly in the vicinity of Newtown Avenue, Broadway, 21st Street and Steinway Street between 4 p.m. and midnight.

Officers have been following up with auto break-in recidivists and are “hoping to get them soon” though Nunez admitted that it is difficult to catch perpetrators in the act.

There have also been a spike in car thefts in the area, mostly in car dealerships. The precinct recorded a 120 percent increase in auto thefts with 11 cars stolen from Jan. 31 through Feb. 27 compared to 5 in the last 28-day period.

Local Hyundai, Lexus and Subaru dealerships reported stolen cars as well as rental car shops who had people rent cars with fraudulent documents. Only two private vehicles were reported stolen, Nunez said.

“They have a very lax way of securing their vehicles,” he said. “Some of them leave the key fobs [in the car.] Unfortunately these things raise auto insurance rates in the area and I made that very clear to these dealerships. They need to get their act together in terms of securing these vehicles.”