Grand Street Strip Slammed by Rash of Burglaries

By Meredith Hoffman on August 29, 2012 8:14am 

WILLIAMSBURG — Grand Street's burgeoning nightlife center has become a hot spot for burglaries this summer, with at least a dozen break-ins along a five-block strip reported since late June, police said.

"It's concerning," said NYPD Deputy Inspector Michael Kemper, the commanding officer of the 90th Precinct, which polices the area.

Kemper noted that a wide range of businesses had been hit between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. while they were closed.

"They forced entry through the rear windows and doors...took money, food, cigarettes, liquor, electronics," he said of the suspects, who he said were likely the same one or two people. "No arrests have been made, but we've been paying close attention."

Restaurants, bars, liquor stores, bodegas and real estate agents have fallen victim to the burglaries — including three neighboring businesses that reported they were hit on the same night earlier this summer.

Haab Mexican restaurant, Blue Angel Wines liquor store and O-T Real Estate were all burglarized on a single night this June, the businesses' staff said.

"They took an iPod and $1,000 from the cash register...they tried to steal the TV's," said Ruffino Zamacona, one of Haab's owners. "Then they came back two days later and tried again...We've been open two years and nothing like this had happened."

The thieves also took $1,000 in cash form O-T Real Estate, staff said, as well as cash from Blue Angel, general manager Wilson Meeks noted.

They also stole $280 from the watering hole LP & Harmony, $1,058 from Lady Jay's bar, electronics and $10 from Mahzen Grill, and 15 bottles of liquor from Los Primos restaurant, Kemper said. 

"These aren't professional burglars. These are desperate people," Kemper said, noting that his precinct had placed more cops on the street and implemented other strategies on the strip to combat the trend. "It calmed down about a week and a half ago...I'd like to say it's because of increased presence."

And even though some businesses said they had instituted their own additional security measures — including a burglar alarm in Blue Angel and window bars in Haab — they said they generally felt safe in the area.

"It had to be a stupid kid," said Maria Vega, an agent at O-T Real Estate, of the burglaries. "This doesn't happen in this neighborhood. Everybody respects everybody."

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