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Crown Heights Thieves Target Cars, Bikes After Burglary Crackdown

By Sonja Sharp | October 17, 2013 7:51am
 Police tape on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights after the West Indian Day Parade.
Police tape on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights after the West Indian Day Parade.
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DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

CROWN HEIGHTS — There's more than one way to skin a cat burglar. 

Police in Crown Heights spent the summer cracking down on home break-ins — only to discover many of the same criminals had switched over to stealing from cars, police said.

"That was crushing us in this part of the community," said Capt. Eddie Lott, commanding officer of the 77th Precinct, speaking to the Crow Hill Community Association on Franklin Avenue Tuesday night.

"As burglaries went down, car break-ins went up. Burglars are getting as much quality property in your car as in your house," Lott continued.

Big-ticket items like cell phones and laptops are increasingly portable, and car break-ins carry a much lower punishment than home burglaries, Lott explained.

"Breaking into your car, if I get caught, the penalty is a lot less than if I get caught breaking into your house," Lott said. "We arrested guys who were historically burglars and were taking the path of least resistance [by switching to cars]. That was driving up crime." 

It's also significantly easier to break into a car than a home.   

"When we talk to the bad guys, all they did was walk around and look into cars [trying to spot valuables]," Lott said. "One of the guys we caught breaking into cars had a knapsack with three or four GPS systems and six cell phones." 

The precinct has managed to curb the spike in car crimes, but crafty criminals keep shifting tactics. Since police began cracking down on car break-ins, the precinct has seen a spike in bicycle thefts. 

"It's something that's been spiking in the command," Lott said. "You've got bikes worth $2,000."