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Nov 11, 2015 11:33 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Rash Of Vehicle Break-Ins Continues In Flanders, Expands To Hampton Bays

Several houses on Priscilla Avenue in Flanders were subject to the recent car break-ins. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Nov 11, 2015 1:08 PM

Homeowners in Flanders have been sleeping with one eye open due to a rash of car break-ins—42 separate incidents have been reported to authorities as of earlier this week—that have occurred over the past several months.

As recently as Saturday morning, five cars that were parked in the driveway of a Post Avenue home were broken into.

Most of the vehicles that have been targeted were unlocked, sparing their owners of physical damage, said Carla Kelly, a longtime resident of Port Street in Flanders who had $350 stolen from a wallet left in one of her cars during the ongoing spree. However, someone did break a window on her Toyota in one of the incidents, and while the guilty party did not make off with any money, it still cost her $125 to replace the window.

“He’s very lucky I didn’t catch him,” said Tony Guarraci, who lives with Ms. Kelly, noting that their vehicles had been targeted on two different occasions.

Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Susan Ralph said this week that the perpetrators are using bricks or big stones to smash the windows of locked cars before stealing money and loose change. In some instances, victims have lost electronic devices like iPads and iPhones.

“We are asking everyone to take valuables out of the car—even if it’s just loose change, get them out of the vehicle,” said Lt. Ralph, adding that those responsible could eventually face felony charges since they often cause more than $250 in damage.

Anthony Pace, another Flanders resident who lives on Priscilla Avenue, said the perpetrator used a brick keeping his basketball hoop in place to smash the window of his girlfriend’s car about three weeks ago. His girlfriend, Nicole Gonzalez, had a pocketbook stashed under the seat of her 2000 Acura. Mr. Pace said the pocketbook was stolen, but there was no money inside.

“It bothers me to know that the guy used the brick,” Mr. Pace said. “That tells me that he has probably been snooping around.”

Mr. Pace, along with Mr. Guarraci and Ms. Kelly, said they all suspect that the perpetrator is a man—known as “Creepy”—who lives in the hamlet, noting that they have shared their suspicions with police. Mr. Pace noted that they have told the man’s real name to the authorities. No arrests have been made.

All three also said they think they were targeted because the rear of their homes face the woods, providing a hidden escape route.

They also said they’ve alerted their friends and neighbors, asking all to keep their eyes peeled for the suspect.

Town Police are continuing to investigate, with Lt. Ralph noting that detectives believe that the incidents are related, though she would not speculate if one person was responsible for all of the break-ins.

“The cops are definitely doing a good job,” Mr. Pace said. “I can tell they’re really trying to find him.”

During Tuesday afternoon’s Town Board meeting, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst made a point of discussing the rash of vehicle break-ins, noting that the police are working to catch those responsible.

“And I do want to say on the break-in and safety issue [that] our police department is very aware of it and we have all hands in your district, so to speak,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, referring to Flanders residents. “There are law enforcement on several levels that are on deck for this now, so we are hoping that there will be some relief very soon.”

While most of the incidents have taken place in Flanders, complaints from homeowners in Hampton Bays—including those living on Ponquogue Avenue—are now starting to be filed with police.

Lt. Ralph said that even if belongings are not taken from a car, the victims should still report such incidents to police. Previously, homeowners have notified authorities upon finding wallets strew about on their properties and, in some cases, credit cards have been returned to their owners.

On November 4, three victims reported that their cars had been broken into while parked along Flanders Road. Other residents, including those on Oak and Glider avenues in Flanders, have filed similar complaints with the police.

Residents say they are taking the necessary precautions to protect their vehicles and property.

“A lot of houses have lights on all night now,” said Gregory Barnett, who has lived on Priscilla Avenue for the past six years and, to date, has not been victimized. “People are watching. You don’t want to be next.

“I keep thinking about it,” he added, “because it’s happening right in my neighborhood.”

Staff writer Alisha Steindecker contributed reporting to this story.

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.... really time to clean this place up. If the state police want to move out of their facility at the traffic circle, let SH Town PD take it over and keep it staffed and operational 24/7. This blight has been going on for decades, time to act. The Town Board can protect the people they represent or they can continue to focus on PDD's and urban sprawl.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Nov 12, 15 10:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
It is happening in Manorville and Center Moriches as well.

By susgeek (41), Speonk on Nov 12, 15 11:28 AM
It happened in Southampton Village too in 2013 too - also at the end of the summer season. Right in the car owner's driveways in several cases and also at the beach parking lots.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Nov 12, 15 5:13 PM
Was anyone charged?
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on Nov 17, 15 11:51 AM