Resident watches helplessly as car is stolen from driveway

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Thieves stole two luxury cars and broke into three others in Manhattan Beach last week — and one unlucky resident watched helplessly as bandits smashed into one of his cars as they made their getaway in the other.

The spat of thefts that continues a trend suggesting the tony seaside neighborhood is fast-becoming a magnet for crime and break-ins started at 4:45 am on Oct. 8, when bandits swiped a 2008 Infiniti from the driveway of Leonid Rozenfeld’s Corbin Place home, between Hampton Avenue and Cass Place.

The thieves banged into Rozenfeld’s second car as they pulled out of the driveway, adding insult to injury.

“I heard a boom, and when I looked out my window [the Infiniti] wasn’t there,” Rozenfeld said.

Police said over the next six days thieves stole an Acura and broke into a Mercedes, a Lexus and one other vehicle.

Bandits also burglarized an Amherst Street home, stealing a laptop and bicycle.

Police declined requests for the most recent statistics on car thefts and break-ins.

As of August, there were 17 car break-ins in 2011, three fewer than last year. Car thefts stood at four, compared to eight in 2010. Those numbers have spiked in the past two months — though by how much remains unclear.

Before the spike occurred Deputy Inspector George Mastrokostas, the commanding officer of the 61st Precinct, sought to reassure residents, saying police are on constant patrol in the neighborhood — even though most of the crime in the area happens outside of Manhattan Beach.

“Manhattan Beach is a relatively safe place,” Mastrokostas said in August.

But residents said the recent mini-crime wave has put them on edge.

The Beachside Neighborhood Patrol has stepped up its nighttime surveillance, according to Ted Klynerman, the group’s president.

Nevertheless, others said they feared the situation could spiral out of control.

“I’m worried that things are going to get worse,” said Alan Ditchek, the president of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association. “It’s only a matter of time before this escalates.”

Posted 12:00 am, October 20, 2011
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