Astoria Plagued by Dozens of Fire Escape Burglaries, Police Say

By Jeanmarie Evelly on March 4, 2014 7:10am 

 The 114th Precinct in Astoria has seen a spike in burglaries in recent months.
The 114th Precinct in Astoria has seen a spike in burglaries in recent months.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

ASTORIA — Astoria has been hit with dozens of home burglaries in recent months with suspects using fire escapes to climb in through unlocked windows, police said.

The NYPD recorded 41 such incidents in the 114th Precinct since mid-December, the majority of which took place between 35th and 49th streets between 30th and 34th avenues, Deputy Inspector Kevin Maloney said.

The string of break-ins came after dozens more occurred in Forest Hills and Rego Park during the past six months, police said. In those, the burglar also entered through open windows.

In Queens North, which includes Astoria and Forest Hills, the last police statistics show burglary went up more than 25 percent through Feb. 23, even as the number of reported break-ins dropped more than 4 percent citywide during that period. Seven of the incidents took place on 34th Street between 30th and 31st avenues, Maloney said.

Police believe the burglar or burglars are gaining access to the roofs of residential buildings, then walking down the fire escapes to look for unsecured rear windows. The rooftops of many buildings in the area are connected, allowing the suspects to hit more than one building at a time, police said.

Once inside, the burglars make off with handheld electronics, cash and jewelry, Maloney said.

The rash of fire escape break-ins has led to a spike in the number of overall burglaries in the 114th Precinct. For the 28-day period ending Feb. 23 there were a total of 43 burglaries, compared to 20 in the same period the year before, a 115-percent increase, according to NYPD statistics.

The 114th Precinct has been doing outreach in the area in recent weeks, and is urging residents to make sure their windows are locked and secure and not to hold the door for anyone — or buzz in strangers they don't recognize.

Police also urged residents to call the police if they see anything suspicious in their building or notice anyone walking on a fire escape.

Residents can call the precinct's Crime Prevention Bureau and request a security survey of their apartments, where officers examine their home for vulnerabilities and offer recommendations for how to make the space safer, police said.

Police also encouraged residents to register electronics like laptops, cameras and cell phones with the 114th Precinct, making them easier to trace and harder for thieves to sell.

The 114th Precinct's crime prevention department can be reached at (718) 626-9324.

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