Today’s news:

Bay Ridge plagued by car break-ins

It’s getting so bad that they might start calling Bay Ridge “Window Break Ridge.”

A jump in car break-ins in the area has put the community on edge and has even prompted one local lawmaker to start disseminating information on how residents can better brace themselves against looters.

“It’s hard to find a single cause of a local spike in vehicle break-ins,” explained City Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) as he forwarded a few saftey tips to his constituents. “What we can do is alert car owners to the increased number of incidents and help prevent them from becoming victims.”

According to NYPD statistics, there were 28 car break-ins in the 68th precinct in January and February. At the same time last year, there had been 25 car break-ins.

Six of this year’s car break-ins have been cataloged as grand larcenies, meaning that credit cards or property valued at over $1,000, such as laptop computers, were removed from these vehicles. The remaining 22 were considered petit larcenies, meaning that some change or loose cash, clothing, iPods, sunglasses and other inexpensive items were removed.

“In this economy, people are looking for small change or whatever of value they can get their hands on,” Inspector Eric Rodriguez, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct told this paper Tuesday. “While all crimes turn our stomach, [car break-ins] is the biggest we’re facing right now.”

The cold weather provides a perfect setting for these crimes, Rodriguez explained. “There are less people out so there are fewer people to see what’s happening,” he said, adding that most car break-ins take place in the earlier part of the year.

“We see less of them over the course of the year,” he said.

Looking over the past few months Rodriguez said that over 60 percent of the car-breakins have been in the 60s between 11th and 14th avenues, right where the precinct borders with the 72nd and the 66th precincts. “But we have some people we’re looking at,” he said.

As he and his officers continue to pressure both the would-be thieves, as well as local pawn shop dealers who buy their spoils, Rodriguez hopes that motorists take their safety tips to heart.

“We want people to recognize that this is happening and realize that if they take their valuables with them when they leave their cars, there’s a better chance they won’t get broken into.”

Common sense safety precautions that can go a long way include:

* Always double checking to make sure your car doors are locked, even if you are only leaving your vehicle for a few moments.

* Making sure you do not leave any valuables visible in your car. Cell phones, MP3 players, navigation systems, wallets and pocketbooks should all be covered or shielded from view.

* Closing all windows tightly and completely.

* Making sure that if you own a removable radio, your remove and secure it upon leaving your vehicle.

Poice said that if any residents witness a break-in or an attempted break-in of a vehicle, they should call 911 immediately.

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