NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD is advising people in Astoria, Queens to lock their apartment windows because of a rash of break-ins through fire escape windows.
As CBS 2’S Carolyn Gusoff reported, even residents on higher floors are urged to safeguard their homes since police say burglars are getting onto fire escapes from the roof.
“I came home and I noticed that my screen had been detached from the window,” Mike DiTota told Gusoff.
He said he almost became the latest victim but, because he was warned about a burglary spree, he latched his second floor window days before a burglar tried to pry it open.
“I usually didn’t latch my window but I made sure that it was latched so I was kind of lucky,” DiTota said.
There have been seven recent break-ins through fire escapes on 34th Street in Astoria.
Since mid-November, the NYPD reports 39 fire escape break-ins in the heart of the Queens community – from 33rd to 47th streets and 30th to 31st Avenue – where fire escaped buildings now house extra cautious tenants, Gusoff reported.
“It’s like a red flag, you have to kind of think about it,” one resident said.
In all 39 daytime break-ins, police said burglars access the roof often through doors left open.
From rooftops, they climb down fire escapes hunting for unlocked windows. Jewelry and other small valuables have been stolen, according to police.
Several apartments in one building were targeted by burglars going through small bathroom windows, Gusoff reported.
“My bathroom window…my super fixed it so it only opens a small portion. It doesn’t open all the way since I heard about that,” Rosemarie Grippo said.
Police have stepped up marked and unmarked patrols.
New York City Councilman Costa Constantinides is urging residents to take away the opportunity for theft.
“I’m definitely encouraging constituents to lock their windows when they’re not home,” he told Gusoff.
A number of buildings in the heart of Astoria were found with unlocked front doors on Tuesday, Gusoff reported.
Police said that gives burglars access to the roofs and the ability hit several buildings because the rooftops are connected.
Police said this could be the work of more than one burglar.
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