Dozens of vehicles have been broken into during the overnight hours in Flanders over the past couple of weeks — with thieves using bricks or large stones to smash windows for access.
Local residents believe dozens more have been victimized in crimes that have gone unreported because no damage was done and nothing was taken. But the contents of storage areas were tossed about.
“Whoever is doing this is very brazen. They are smashing car windows with bricks right in people’s driveways,” said Phil Tocci, who said his own trucks were “gone through” twice.
Tocci’s windows were not smashed — he believes that’s because he left his doors unlocked. He’d removed all valuables, so nothing was taken. But the contents of his glove box were tossed on the floor and seat and they were digging through the ashtray, Tocci said.
Others were not so lucky.
Antonio Veliz of Suffolk Avenue had a window of his Subaru wagon smashed twice in the past two weeks — most recently overnight Thursday.
This afternoon, Veliz was cleaning up the mess of shattered safety glass that sprayed all over the inside of his vehicle. The Subaru was one of several vehicles in his driveway. The rest were untouched.
Veliz held a piece of paving stone that he found in the rubble of glass on the front passenger seat. “They used this,” he said.
Another Suffolk Avenue resident, Mike Brewer, who lives several doors down from Veliz, said a window on his wife’s car was smashed with a brick Thursday night. “They told me I was number 42,” Brewer said, referring to the number of break-in reports police told him had been made as of yesterday morning. At least two more vehicles in the same vicinity were broken into overnight last night.
“They’re looking for money,” Brewer said. A GPS was in the glove box of the car, he said. They rifled through the glove box but left the GPS in place.
Brewer, Tocci and others — about 15 people in total— have been patrolling local neighborhoods during the early morning hours.
“The police can’t be everywhere,” Tocci explained.
He urges everyone who’s had their cars touched to make a police report, even if nothing’s been taken or damaged.
“I myself know of seven or eight people who didn’t make reports to the police,” Tocci said.
Tocci said he doesn’t understand why Southampton police have been mum about the rash of break-ins.
“I know they’re out there working on it, but I just feel the people should know, so at least they can protect themselves,” Tocci said.
A Southampton Town Police spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Councilman Brad Bender said today after Brewer called him yesterday and alerted him to the break-ins, he called Police Chief Robert Pearce.
“They are investigating and hoping to put an end to it really soon,” Bender said.
“People might be better off leaving their cars unlocked. Take all valuables out, especially cash and change,” he said. “And don’t leave anything in view inside the car.”
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