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Lock Your Cars at Night, Police Warn

Thu, 09/29/2022 - 11:06

Thieves hit driveways from Montauk to Springs

Durell Godfrey

A flurry of mid-September overnight car break-ins in Montauk, Amagansett, and Springs has had victims and residents taking to social media to bemoan an apparently organized racket and warn others about the incidents. Police say they’re on the case but have no suspects.

On the social media app Next Door, Michael Green of Springs warned his neighbors on Sept. 15 that “unlocked cars were broken into last night on Camberly Road, yet another incident in Springs with this M.O. They take the wallets from open cars, only overnight — they do not break into locked cars, as no alarms went off.”

Mr. Green’s warning was reflected largely in reports released by the East Hampton Town Police Department this week, detailing nearly two dozen car break-ins on the night of Sept. 14.

In Montauk, Marshall Prado’s wallet was stolen from a 2013 Jeep Wrangler parked at 37 Fairview Drive. A credit card belonging to Mr. Prado was subsequently used at around 5:30 a.m. in a failed attempt to make a purchase at the Wainscott Speedway gas station.

Several vehicles parked in the driveway of the Yashinowsky home at 193 Greenwich Street were also broken into; two wallets and a debit card were among the stolen items. Thomas Lupinacci also lost a wallet to thieves, who broke into his 2019 Ford utility vehicle, parked at his 120 Soundview Drive house.

Numerous Montauk residents reported that thieves had rummaged through their cars but left empty-handed. Richard Etzel said his 2020 Toyota Highlander was parked in the driveway at 155 Fairview Avenue when he noticed “that his stuff was all over the vehicle when he went out in the morning.”

The pattern was repeated in Amagansett, where five vehicles were victimized by rummaging ruffians, including a Honda Pilot and a Volkswagen GTI parked at Anita Wright’s house at 139 Windward Lane. Neil Pearson of 106 Windward said the driver’s door of his 2003 BMW M3 was ajar on the morning of Sept. 15 and his glove box had been searched. Nothing appeared to have been taken.

The thieves appear to target unlocked cars — but not always. Jennifer Chavez of Springs said a 2009 Lexus R35 and a 2010 Kia parked in her 50 Norfolk Drive driveway had both been broken into. An iPhone was among the items stolen from the Kia. Ms. Chavez’s Lexus suffered asmashed passenger-side front window; a Calvin Klein wristlet containing her driver’s license and credit cards was taken.

Three break-ins were reported on Camberly Road. Elena Morocho-Japa’s wallet and credit cards were stolen from a 2021 Honda CRV parked at 38 Camberly. Two charges for $205.95 each were subsequently logged at an unidentified 7-Eleven.

Jennifer Suarez of 54 Camberly lost a pink Kate Spade wallet to thieves who broke into her 2014 Chevrolet on Sept. 14. Ms. Suarez also reported an attempted charge of $205.95 at a Speedway.

The larcenies continued: Bill Logowel reported that his 2018 GMC Sierra, parked at 65 Camberly Road, was broken into on Sept. 18. Nothing appeared to be missing, he said. 

Police are on the lookout for suspects and believe they may have encountered one or a few of them after interviewing the occupants of a 2020 Honda S.U.V. parked at the Montauk Lake Club at 211 East Lake Drive on Friday night at about 1:30 a.m.

The numerous occupants all appeared “extremely nervous and were all unable to provide a reasonable explanation as to why they were sitting in the dark in a car that was turned off,” reported police. “Event to be documented due to the increase of vehicle larcenies from the Montauk area during the overnight hours.”

East Hampton Town police spokesman Sgt. Ryan Hogan said the agency was investigating the larceny spree along with recent car thefts in East Hampton and Montauk.

One of the car-theft victims was William Ferguson, whose 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee was stolen from his Montauk address at 40 Lincoln Road sometime between 1 and 3 a.m. on Sept. 14.

The vehicle was subsequently identified by police using a license-place tracker, headed west in Wainscott at 5:30 a.m. The Jeep was later recovered “within the confines of the N.Y.P.D.’s jurisdiction,” said Sergeant Hogan.

As for the larcenies: “We are working with all of our victims to identify possible suspects at this time,” said Sergeant Hogan. “Multiple jurisdictions have been dealing with vehicle larcenies of recent weeks, so we again are asking the public to lock their vehicles when they are not in use and report anything they deem suspicious to the Police Department.”

Concerned neighbors flooded the Next Door site with comments and concerns following the Sept. 14 spree.

Pam Keep of Springs called the rash of break-ins “so disheartening. I guess our bubble has burst!”

Mr. Green noted that many of the break-ins had taken place in the Clearwater Beach neighborhood of Springs, and suggested a virtual neighborhood watch was in order. “I’m starting to think this is an epidemic,” he wrote.

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