NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – To combat a spike in car thefts in one Queens community, police are targeting the drivers themselves in a ticket blitz.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, police are cracking down on drivers who double park and leave their engines running in Howard Beach.
Double-parked cars are a common sight along Cross Bay Boulevard, where parking can be tight.
“That’s not my problem. I don’t do something stupid like that. I put a safety lock on the car,” resident Joe Finger told Slattery.
The number of car thefts in Howard Beach and Ozone Park has nearly doubled in the past year. Police said 65 cars have been stolen this year, compared to 35 during the same period last year.
According to police, some drivers hop out for just a minute, run into a store and leave the engine running. Opportunistic thieves can then swipe the cars.
“Stolen and they deserve it. I had a friend who used to do that and his car was always stolen. Used to leave it running, double parked,” resident Ralph Cassuto told Slattery.
Howard Beach has also seen five home break-ins within a period of five days in the past several weeks. In two of the incidents, the homes were occupied.
To combat both issues, there is an increased police presence around Howard Beach.
Some of the double-parking offenders were police officers themselves, Slattery reported.
Howard Beach residents tout the area’s overall low crime rate despite the recent surge in home and car thefts.
Of the 65 vehicles stolen so far this year, 44 have been recovered. Thirty of the cars had no damage, suggesting they were simply taken for joyrides.
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