Under Cover Of Darkness, Precinct's Special "Midnight" Team To Combat Auto Theft And Vandalism

This is just one of the many photos sent to Sheepshead Bites of cars with stolen tires. It was taken on February 20 by Sergey K. on Shore Parkway, a roadway frequently targeted by wheel/rim thieves.

Local car-owners feeling threatened by ongoing vandalism in the area, fear no more. Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas of the 61st Precinct recently launched a “Midnight Conditions Team” to catch criminals who steal or vandalize autos under the cover of darkness in the Sheepshead Bay area.

“We are targeting car-related crimes such as vehicle break-ins, graffiti, flattening of tires, stealing GPS, rim/tire theft, breaking mirrors and other illegal misconduct,” said Officer Amber Cafaro of the 61st Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit. “The officers in charge of this project are highly-decorated, have impeccable expertise and know what they are doing. The officers will try to figure out patterns and trends and will have people target a specific type of car.”

In the 28-day period covering the month of February, there has been a total of eight vehicle thefts in the area. During the same time period in 2010, there was a total of 12, down by 33 percent. But authorities note that the numbers are constantly fluctuating and don’t tell the full story. One thing is for sure, though: auto break-ins and vehicle-related property theft rank among the most common crimes in the precinct.

Despite the new nighttime patrol keeping us – and our property- safe while we sleep, Mastrokostas reminds the public not to leave valuables in your car or your car unlocked (which authorities say happens quite often). Change in the cupholder or a sign that a GPS might be in the vehicle – like the dashboard mounting clip – could give a thief incentive to break in.

The 61st Precinct Community Council meets tonight at 3093 Ocean Avenue at 7:30 p.m. The council offers residents the opportunity to speak with the deputy inspector and share concerns about neighborhood safety.