NORTH WOODMERE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Authorities on Long Island are warning homeowners about a pattern of burglaries targeting homes with safes inside.
The warning comes after some North Woodmere residents learned the hard way that a safe may not be as safe as you think.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported exclusively, the crime pattern first appeared last summer but the numbers have now more than doubled.
“I thought I had a 550-pound safe bolted to the floor, nothing could touch it. But obviously, I was wrong,” North Woodmere resident Dr. Rakesh Gupta told Gusoff.
His safe was ripped out of the floor, thrown down his staircase and hauled away. Prized heirlooms he kept inside were stolen.
“You don’t get over it. Every day I get up in the morning, I get up with a hole in my stomach,” Seema Gupta said.
CBS 2 first reported a rash of six safe burglaries in North Woodmere in June. Since then, there have been more.
Nassau County police said since September, nine more safes have been ripped out of homes from Hewlett Neck to Woodmere.
Burglars often get in through second floor windows on Saturday nights, according to police. In some cases, the alarms were disabled.
“We’re investigating a common denominator that an individual such as an electrician, a contractor, a landscaper has connections to all these burglaries,” said Nassau County Police Inspector Kenneth Lack.
The Guptas said surveillance video given to police shows a masked man feeding – possibly drugging – their dogs and dragging their safe out the door with a bedsheet as three accomplices waited outside.
“I saw that safe being bolted to the floor and never thought in the world that anyone could move it,” Seema Gupta told Gusoff.
Police urge residents to lock their homes and safes, trim back shrubbery, and not let their houses appear unoccupied.
One resident caught a would-be burglar in the act. He’s viewed as a person of interest in the other break-ins, police said.
Locksmiths said your best protection is to keep the safes out of sight and wedge it into a corner.
“This way, you don’t have the leverage to wiggle it out,” Woodmere locksmith Kenny Fine told Gusoff.
The Guptas said they’ve learned the hard way that their safe was not safe. They’re going public to try to stop a burglary ring that’s robbed them of priceless memories.
Nassau Police say they have met with civic associations and are ramping up patrols.
Anyone with information or who notices suspicious activity is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.
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