Nassau County police are urging residents to lock their car doors and remove cash and valuables to deter thieves amid an uptick in car thefts.
Aided by surveillance video from victims' homes, Nassau Police Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said the department's Major Case Squad and Burglary Pattern had made a number of arrests in recent months as organized rings targeted affluent areas countywide.
LeBrun, speaking to reporters Thursday at police headquarters in Mineola, warned residents not to leave car doors unlocked — even in their driveways — nor to keep key fobs inside vehicles.
"Either you lock it, or you're gonna lose it," LeBrun said.
Auto thefts are up 18% so far this year to 396, exceeding the 334 vehicle thefts recorded by this date in 2018. LeBrun said the number of property thefts from vehicles — ranging from laptop computers to spare change — from inside cars also was spiking in some areas, but he could not immediately provide statistics.
"It's easy because people are inadvertently or purposely leaving their car fobs in their car so all [the thieves] have to do is jiggle the handle, open the door and go in and press the start button," said LeBrun, adding that about 97% of vehicle thefts could be avoided by locking a car door or removing a key fob.
On Sept. 26, Nassau police announced the arrests of three Queens men for allegedly committing multiple car thefts over four weeks from August to September. Police said the alleged theft ring stole a 2017 Audi from a home in Garden City Park; a Mercedes GS450, 2016 Audi and Cadillac Escalade from East Hills; a 2018 Lexus RX350, a 2019 Infiniti QX60, a 2019 BMX X3 and a Chevrolet Corvette from Old Westbury; and a 2019 BMX 330 CI from Syosset.