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Chronic crime inside the community

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Cops are redoubling their efforts to combat neighborhood car break-ins, identity theft and credit card fraud.

Captain Joseph Veneziano, executive officer of the 61st Precinct, told community council members last week that grand larceny, or non-violent theft of $1000 or more, is a chronic problem in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Homecrest and other neighborhoods protected by cops in the Coney Island Avenue station house.

“In 2008 we finished up the year with a 7.6 percent increase in crime,” Veneziano explained. “One of the main reasons why we were up is grand larcenies, which accounted for 38 percent of all our crimes.”

The category is a catch all of crimes from credit card fraud and identity theft, to purse snatches, car break-ins and the theft of a purse, wallet, laptop computer and other valuables while the victim was distracted or otherwise occupied.

Combating the rise in grand larcenies will take a multi-pronged approach, especially since the 61st Precinct saw an almost even number in car break-ins, pick-pocket incidents, purse snatchings and cases of credit card fraud in 2008, Veneziano explained.

“It’s really spread out,” he said. “We have a fair share of pick pocketing cases, car breaks ins and cases of unattended property.”

The captain said that in 2009 the precinct has already fielded 51 grand larceny complaints — two more than the 49 in January, 2008.

He and his officers hope to nip the fraud problem in the bud with a new initiative designed to track the usage of stolen or compromised cards to see if they can be linked to one group or person.

Apprehending those either selling or stealing these compromised cards is a priority, he said.

In order to prevent purse snatchings and cases of pick-pocketing, the 61st Precinct will be putting more patrols on heavily congested areas such as Kings Highway and Sheepshead Bay Road.

Cops will also be redoubling their efforts in combating car break-ins.

Residents can join the fight by making sure that their cars are both secure and free of tempting electronic items before leaving the vehicle.

Motorists should also take their portable GPS devices out of their cars and even take the further step of wiping down the suction cup rings left behind by the brackets hanging off the windshield.

“We’ve learned from those we arrest for the crime,” Veneziano said. “They tell us that they’ll be out at night not setting out to commit a crime, but then they’ll pass by a car and see either the suction cup ring or the bracket and they’ll think about breaking into that car.”

That’s when prevention goes a long way, Veneziano explained.

“Taking an extra step can certainly protect you from becoming a victim,” he said.

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