2008-12-05 / Front Page

Stealth Burglar Strikes Belle Harbor

By Howard Schwach

While residents say that there has been "an epidemic" of burglaries on the bay blocks of Belle Harbor in the past month, police officials report that there have been just five such crimes during that period.

Rachel Edwards, who lives on Beach 128 Street and says that her home was burglarized on November 17, told The Wave on Wednesday that she had heard of a number of other burglaries in Belle Harbor and that local police seem not to be able to stop them.

Captain Thomas Barrett, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct, however, says that his crime team and detectives have been working diligently on the case and that they have a suspect for whom they are looking in connection with the crimes.

Barrett enumerated the recent break-ins for The Wave.

He says that the burglar seems to be knowledgeable about the area and that he often strikes through doors or windows that are left open.

"He blends in with the neighborhood," Barrett says. "He hits places quickly, in and out, and in some cases there were people in other apartments in the homes when the burglar struck."

The first break-in, he says, came at St. Francis de Sales Church on November 17. Barrett says that nothing was taken and that there was some damage inside the church's school.

"They tried to open the principal's door, and the alarm went off, and they left," Barrett said, adding that he believes that some schoolchildren might have been responsible.

The next two break-ins came on November 17, Barrett said.

Both were on the 400 blocks of their respective streets - Beach 128 Street and Beach 130 Street.

In the Beach 130 Street break-in, a relative was home in the downstairs apartment when the burglary occurred, and reportedly did not hear a thing.

In fact, Barrett said, the family did not even realize they had been burglarized until a workman cleaning roof gutters on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 130 Street knocked on the door and handed them a checkbook he had found. A short time after the workman returned the checkbook, a postal worker came to the house with a wallet that he had found on the street near Beach Channel Drive, which belonged to a family member.

In both of the November 17 burglaries, jewelry was taken.

On November 27, a home on the 500 block on Beach 131 Street was hit while its owner was away in Pennsylvania for the holiday. Again, jewelry and a wristwatch were taken. The burglar entered the house through an open sliding glass door, but the screen door, which was locked, was cut open.

On November 29, a home on the 200 block of Beach 135 Street was hit through an open second floor window.

Again jewelry and a checkbook were taken from the home.

Barrett says that he has some forensic evidence that might or might not lead him to the person who has been breaking into the homes.

He urges everybody to lock their windows and doors, even when they are at home.

"You can't give a burglar such as this one even a small entry," he said. "You've got to protect your property."

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