QUEENS — Victims of the recent rash of burglaries sweeping Forest Hills shared their tales at a special public safety meeting Tuesday.
Wayne Ruggiere, 54, who has lived in the area for eight years, said thieves broke into his house through the basement window, snatching cash and "good jewelry" before fleeing.
“My wife feels violated, my kids feel violated, I feel violated,” he said. “They ransacked the house... looked through all the closets, dumped everything out, looking for cash and jewelry,” said Ruggiere, who sells life insurance.
Ruggiere said the thieves left his iPad and laptop behind.
So far, there have been nine break-ins in the spree that began in late February, ranging from Metropolitan Avenue to Fleet Street, from 69th to 71st avenues, according to Capt. Thomas Conforti, who oversees the 112th Precinct, covering Forest Hills and Rego Park.
The latest burglary occured on St. Patrick’s Day — despite an increased police presence in the neighborhood after the break-ins started, police said.
Police said the thieves typically break into houses by kicking in back doors. They take jewelry, cash and other items that can't be tracked, leaving behind items like iPads or laptops.
In two cases, the thieves removed two massive flatscreen TV's — one with a 50-inch screen and another with a 60-inch screen.
Many residents said they had taken steps to upgrade home security in recent weeks. “We have never had anything like this in this neighborhood,” said Karen Wolter, 53, who works in sales at Bloomingdale's and has lived in the area for more than 20 years. "We got extra locks," said her son, Kraig, 25.
Conforti, who said he had started driving around the neighborhood even on his days off, asked residents to call 911 whenever they see suspicious activity in the area. Cops also suggested that residents take pictures of their jewelry.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents Forest Hills, said she had secured $500,000 to buy security cameras to be placed throughout the district.