BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Police put Brooklyn Heights residents on high alert after a recent string of burglaries in the neighborhood — including a thief who bolted with a handful of stolen goods when a doorman caught him in the act.
Seven break-ins have been reported in the neighborhood over the last two weeks, according to an email sent to residents by the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), amid a sharp uptick in burglaries across the precinct last month.
The 84th Precinct alerted the organization to the spike in burglaries, saying that most incidents took place during the workweek when apartments and homes were unoccupied, the email said.
In most cases the apartment doors were forced open, but police suspect burglars may have also used fire escapes to get in through unlocked windows, the association said.
In the past two weeks, break-ins took place on Willow, Joralemon and Hicks streets, according to CompStat, NYPD’s crime statistics database.
Thirteen total burglaries have been reported in the precinct — which covers Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO and Vinegar Hill — from Dec. 5 to Jan. 1, data shows. That's more than triple the number reported burglaries in the precinct the month prior, as only four break-ins occurred between Nov. 7 and Dec. 4, police said.
Last month's tally was also more than double the the amount recorded over the same time period last year — with six burglaries reported between Dec. 5 and Jan. 1 2015, according to police.
In one instance last month, on Dec. 29, a burglar hit two units in the same Willow Street apartment building in one day, according to a police report.
The thief stole more than $1,335 in electronics and jewelry from an 89-year-old woman's apartment and $5,250 in electronics and jewelry from a 47-year-old woman's apartment sometime between 11:32 a.m. and 12:48 p.m., police said.
The building’s doorman tried to chase down the burglar after running into him on his way downstairs, he told DNAinfo.
After the doorman, Joselito Diaz, had finished some work on the building’s third floor, he went to the elevator to head back downstairs, he said.
When the elevator door opened, he ran into the burglar, who was holding a small TV, a purse, a wallet, soap and detergent, Diaz said.
The burglar kept pushing the elevator’s “door close” button to prevent Diaz from getting on, but the doorman eventually made it inside with him, he said.
“I was confused as to why he kept closing the door,” Diaz said in Spanish. “I was trying to tell him I was going down, too, but he kept hitting the ‘door-close’ button.”
Once they got to the ground floor, Diaz followed the man outside, where the burglar told him he was going to his car. Instead, the suspect fled and dropped some of the stolen items on the ground, he said.
Diaz said the burglar likely got in through an unlocked window or door.
He said longtime residents feel safe enough to leave their doors and windows unlocked while they are away.
“I’ve worked here for 10 years and there are people that have lived here longer than that, and everyone is surprised,” the doorman explained. “This is the first time anyone has heard about something like this happening here.”
Police have since warned residents to lock their doors and windows, and to alert officers if they see suspicious activity.
Brooklyn Heights Assocation Executive Director Peter Bray said that while the neighborhood is safe, residents shouldn’t let their guard down.
“I would advise people to just not be complacent — despite the fact that the high crime of the decades ago appeared to be a thing of the past, there are people who are looking for vulnerable situations to take advantage of people,” Bray said.