WEST VILLAGE — Burglaries are on the rise in the Village — and thieves are targeting residents who leave their apartment doors unlocked, police said.
There were 20 burglaries in the 6th Precinct in the 28-day period ending on Feb. 23, up from just seven during the same period in 2013, according to NYPD crime statistics. More than half of the recent burglaries occurred during the day in West Village apartments with doors that had been left unlocked, said Inspector Elisa Cokkinos, the precinct's commanding officer.
Police believe a single burglar or team of burglars is behind the 11 daytime thefts in unlocked apartments, but none of the buildings that were broken into had surveillance cameras, and investigators have not yet been able to pick up fingerprints at any of the crime scenes, Cokkinos said.
In each case, police believe the culprits are hitting buildings at random, checking for open doors or forcing open flimsy ones — or sneaking in behind delivery workers or neighbors, Cokkinos said. In some instances, police believe residents have buzzed intruders into the building without checking to see who rang the bell.
Once inside, the burglar or burglars go door to door, searching for apartments left unlocked, Cokkinos said.
The 6th Precinct has assigned at least 12 additional officers to the area where the daytime burglaries have occurred — a portion of the West Village bounded by Christopher Street, West 11th Street, West Fourth Street and Washington Street — but Cokkinos said police are also counting on the community's help in stopping the broad-daylight burglaries.
"If you see anybody suspicious in your building or something on your block and you don't like what you see, please call 911," Cokkinos told residents at a precinct community council meeting last week.
Even if the suspicious person has already left, it's still worth calling police so that an evidence team can come and check for potential leads, Cokkinos said.
Despite the increase in burglaries, crime in the Village is down overall by 21 percent so far this year compared to last year, according to NYPD statistics.
Still, police are concerned about the rise in burglaries and urged residents to take precautions including keeping laptops, iPads and other valuables away from windows and out of view. Police also recommend locking all windows and doors before leaving the house, installing dead bolts and insisting that landlords add sturdy locks to front doors and roof entrances.
Cokkinos said in some of the recently burglarized buildings, neighbors have recalled seeing an unfamiliar person in the hallway, but said they "didn't think anything of it."
"Think something of it," she advised. "Because that's how we're going to get this guy."