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Burglaries spike at the 61 Pct

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Sometimes fighting crime is a lot like using a finger to plug a small hole in a dam. You may have stopped the leak, but another crack can form at any minute.

That’s probably just how cops from the 61st Precinct felt last month when, after fighting so hard to reduce their robbery problem, they suddenly saw a sharp spike in burglaries.

Recently released crime statistics show that over the past month burglaries in the 61st Precinct jumped by 68 percent. Officials said that in November 2007, residents in Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest and parts of Midwood told police that 25 residential and commercial break-ins occurred in their neighborhoods. This last month, 42 burglaries were reported, officials said.

Most of the burglaries involved apartments or homes, officials said.

Yet, while burglaries are on the rise, the number of robberies in the command, which had grown steadily since the beginning of the year, fell over the last month, by nearly 12 percent.

Police said that 15 robberies took place in the 61st Precinct this past November, two less than the 17 that took place in November 2007.

Officials said that a good portion of those robberies were teen-on-teen thefts and usually involved a cell phone being taken by force.

Jumps in teen-on-teen theft have been seen by many of the NYPD commands surrounding the 61st Precinct, including the 62nd Precinct in Bensonhurst and the 63rd Precinct in Marine Park, officials said.

To combat the situation, Captain George Mastrokostas, the commanding officer of the 61st Precinct, started an initiative to encourage teens to always be aware of their surroundings when they are either using their phones or texting their friends.

Cops are also encouraging residents, particularly teens, to get their iPods and cell phones registered with the NYPD — a move that will make the electronic devices less desirable to thieves.

 The plan worked and robberies in October and November began to wane.

Mastrokostas told members of the 61st Precinct Community Council Wednesday that he was re-doubling their efforts to combat burglaries in the neighborhoods under his protection.

He also explained that sometimes the simplest precautions, such as making sure that your windows were not only closed but locked, could go a long way to prevent one from becoming a burglary victim.

The 61st Precinct has seen a nearly six percent rise in burglary this year.

Overall felony crime was also up, by just over seven percent, officials said.

Anyone wishing more tips on how to burglar-proof their home can contact the (718) 627-6611.

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