Crime and surveillance - Manhattan Beach thievery revives plan for security cameras

The Brooklyn Paper

It may be among the safest neighborhoods in the entire city, but some thieves still insist on letting their sticky fingers do the walking in Manhattan Beach.

Case in point: a 93-year-old Beaumont Street woman fell victim to crime back on June 17 when a scam artist posing as a water inspector showed up at her door saying he needed access to the senior citizen’s house. The ruse worked and the thief was able to walk out of the unwitting woman’s home with $300 in his pocket.

Last week, Sgt. Michael Doyle of the 61st Precinct updated members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) about the deception burglary, saying that the upsetting crime appears to be an isolated incident.

“It’s not a pattern right now,” Doyle assured residents gathered inside P.S. 195 on Irwin Street. “This is the first incident we’re seeing.”

Similar flim-flam artists have struck in surrounding neighborhoods, however. Police warn neighbors in Manhattan Beach to always ask for proper identification if someone shows up at your door, and even call the utility company to check if they have actually sent the inspector out.

Young people in Manhattan Beach have encountered trouble as well.

Over the last month, cops from the 61st Precinct made two separate robbery arrests involving youths preying on other kids with cell phones.

Doyle warned that thieves have also begun targeting wallets left unattended on Manhattan Beach.

In the month prior, cops issued well over 100 criminal court summonses to people trespassing after hours, acting disorderly, drinking and urinating in public both on the beach and along the Shore Boulevard pedestrian mall.

One unfortunate motorist had his car stolen on West End Avenue.

Just three days after the MBNA held its meeting on July 7, 61st Precinct cops reportedly busted three individuals allegedly trying to break into a home on Hastings Street.

Members of the MBNA say that all of the aforementioned incidents underscore the importance of funding Manhattan Beach’s private Beachside Neighborhood Patrol.

Ron Biondo, meanwhile, chair of the MBNA’s quality of life committee, once again revisited the idea of installing surveillance cameras in Manhattan Beach as a way of deterring criminal activity.

“The project is not off the table,” Biondo insisted. “It’s an exciting program.”

Biondo was the main proponent of installing facial recognition devices at the corner of West End Avenue and Oriental Boulevard and Shore Boulevard and Exeter Street, while he was still president of the Manhattan Beach Community Group last year.

At the time, State Senator Carl Kruger talked about funding the project, but members of the MBCG had many unanswered questions about long-term costs and putting their neighborhood under round-the-clock electronic surveillance.

“On May 18, 2007, I met with [State Senator] Kruger and arranged to meet with [MBCG] members, but that meeting never happened,” Biondo said.


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