QUEENS — A rash of "alarming" break-ins has struck Forest Hills and Rego Park in recent weeks — with brazen burglars entering homes while residents are inside before making off with tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, a top NYPD official said.
In the most recent 28-day period ending Oct. 15, the number of burglaries in the 112th Precinct jumped 300 percent — from two to eight— compared to the same period last year, according to statistics provided by the NYPD.
The burglaries occurred at various locations throughout the precinct, including homes on Union Turnpike, Selfridge Street, 62nd Drive, 108th Street, Fitchett Street and 65th Avenue, the precinct's commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Robert Ramos, said at a recent community council meeting.
Some of the break-ins occurred between 4 and 8 p.m., a "very alarming” trend considering residents are often home at that time, Ramos explained. He noted that such incidents usually take place during the late morning or early afternoon when people are at work.
In one of the burglaries, which occurred on Union Turnpike, a teenager was at home at the time but had been wearing headphones, the commanding officer said. He later told investigators that he heard something but thought it was the wind.
In another incident, a man residing on 62nd Drive heard a noise, but by the time he went downstairs the thief was gone. A surveillance camera at the location captured the suspect's image, but his face was covered and he was wearing a hat, police said.
It was not immediately clear what specifically the thieves stole in each of the incidents, but Ramos said they targeted mostly jewelry and watches.
In one of the burglaries, the victims lost $50,000 worth of jewelry, including a $20,000 Rolex watch, Ramos noted.
Other items stolen during the string of break-ins include an iPad, a Louis Vuitton bag and high-end clothing.
Ramos said at least two of the reported break-ins appeared to be linked the same burglar.
The suspects broke into homes and apartments through the back doors, back windows or basement windows, Ramos noted.
The commanding officer urged residents to install various security devices in their homes, such as cameras, which he called “a tremendous investigation tool" that often serves as a deterrent.
“A lot of burglars would walk down the street and when they see that there is a camera on the house, they will keep walking,” he said. “They will go to another house that does not have a camera.”