Car Break-Ins Spike in Sections of the UWS; Too Many Tasty Valuables are Visible, Police Say

NYPD map showing locations of car break-ins in the 20th Precinct in 2019.

By Joy Bergmann

Although overall reported crime continues to plummet across the Upper West Side, car break-ins are way up in the 20th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Timothy Malin told attendees at the 20th Precinct Community Council meeting Monday evening. From January 1st through March 24th, there were 31 car break-ins reported in the 20th versus 8 during the same period last year.

“We think we have an identified suspect, but we need to catch him in the act,” Malin said. “We caught one perpetrator and he gave up a second name that we think is responsible for a lot more.”

The vast majority of the break-ins occur between midnight and 7 a.m. And vehicle owners are upping their risk of theft by leaving valuables visible to thieves. “Every single car he’s broken into has had something left laying inside it that’s attractive to him,” Malin said, noting instances of a briefcase, a purse containing $1,500, and a box of tools being seen and grabbed.

“Tell your friends, your building, anyone you know who has a car:  Don’t leave anything in it. He hasn’t broken into a single car that’s been empty,” Malin said.

The news is a bit better further north in the 24th Precinct which encompasses the area from 86th Street to 110th Street. Car break-ins there are down with 14 reported thus far in 2019 compared to 24 in 2018, police said.

NEWS | 25 comments | permalink
    1. Evan Bando says:

      We’re still not there yet. When they break into a car to get the pen on the dashboard to sell on the street, then, you’ll know the bad old days of New York are back.

      • Preparing for the worst says:

        Yes! Very true. The 70’s and early 80s during the crack epidemic. Now it’s Homeless!!! I knew this was coming our way right about now with this new generation of homeless not educated dropouts and a lot more of them this time around that can’t hold a job so they turn homeless. It pays to have the new technology vehicles if you want to park on the streets. My vehicle has an app that warns me and a active cam I can actually see anybody in my Jeep 24/7. Any type of activity unauthorized shuts down the vehicle completely where It cannot be operated. I’m also a licensed gun owner this time around. I plan not to put up with this, enough is enough.

        • sam says:

          Did you also build yourself a bomb shelter? What, pray tell, will owning a gun do for you when a homeless guy is breaking into your car looking for something he can sell?

        • UWS-er says:

          Uh, so if you see someone breaking into your car, you’re gonna come out and shoot him? That’s gonna turn out well.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          do i understand this correctly:

          you’re planning on shooting someone if you see them breaking into your car?

          and you’ve announced this beforehand?

        • Sherman says:

          You might want to replace your gun with a lead pipe.

          If you shoot someone breaking into your car it will leave a trail and the police will likely find you.

          However, instead of shooting the culprit you can just attack him with a lead pipe.

          This leaves less of a trail and the police will have a hard time finding you.

          You can also use nonchucks on whoever is breaking into your car. This might deter criminals.

          • UWS_lifer says:

            Just an FYI for all you folks…

            You can never use deadly force unless you have a reasonable apprehension of seriously bodily injury or death. At least that was the standard in NY a million years ago when I took the bar exam.:)

            No Stand Your Ground around here. Necessary and proportionate force can be used in self defense and defense of third parties but not defense of property.

            I think Capt. Malin will back me up on this one.:)

            Sorry no nunchucks, no lead pipes and certainly no guns to defend against a misdemeanor property crime like a petty theft from a car. Come on People.

            Stop with the Charles Bronson impersonation…what’s next? Are you going to draw down on one of these folks not picking up after their dog?:)

          • Preparing for the worst says:

            Thank you Sherman good idea. I don’t need someone trailing me home even though my vehicle is in front of my house.

        • Rover says:

          BillyNYC with a gun?? And announcing that he wants to shoot people, as well? God help us all.

      • Stuart says:

        We stopped parking our car on Riverside Drive after someone popped the turn signal relectors and bulbs from the sides of our vehicle. Not exactly pencils, but we once had beach chairs (and nothing else) stolen from the back seat while parked on West End between 76th and 77th, which we thought was a safe block, at least safer (and more foot traffic) than Riverside. Back in the early 1990s we used to remove the radio upon exiting the car, and put newspapers sticking out of the slot where the radio was. Aaah those were the days…

    2. Witness West 81Street says:

      I’ve witnessed it on W. 81st St. About a month ago on a Saturday evening while walking my dog there two homeless guys got three cars right in a row. Took three pieces of luggage out of one car. I called 911, no one show up. They took off with the luggage to the subway station at 81st St.

    3. Leon says:

      Who leaves a purse with $1,500 in it sitting in their car?

      That being said, I really feel like NYC is regressing back to the 80s. Under deBlasio there has been a big increase of quality of life infractions. Many might not hit the police blotter but they shouldn’t be happening. More homeless and pan handlers on the streets. When you accidentally bumps into someone on the subway they are ready to start a fight. And now more car break-ins.

      Maybe I should start walking around with a boom box on my shoulder wearing my breakdancing outfit.

      • Alfonse says:

        Yes, and there is the homeless drug addict who like to stand on the median of Broadway @ 79th yelling some sort of crazy sh-t. That is when he isn’t peeing into the foliage behind the bench (yep, Monday 3/25 @ 8:45 pm). I see more homeless on Broadway between 66-80th in the past 12 months than in the last 10 years. Thinking it is time to get out of Dodge!

    4. Ann Surr-Mann says:

      Car owners who park on the street should be required purchase and maintain liability insurance to cover losses from theft.

      It would make these irresponsible freeloaders more accountable for wasting valuable law enforcement resources for their selfish actions.

      This is another reason why metered parking on ALL NYC streets would be beneficial and justified.

      Car owners in the city should be assessed a minimum fee of $2500/year to be used to combat street crime and auto break-ins.

      It should be a ticketable offense to file a police report for a car break-in unless you have theft-loss insurance.

      • Mark Moore says:

        Most of these break-ins right now go unreported. But if people had theft loss insurance for a car smash-and-grab they would have to file a police report to make an insurance claim, thereby increasing the burden on police. So in other words, no.

      • Scott says:

        It’s amazing how the anti-car Taliban comes out of the woodwork in almost every thread, shoehorning their pet causes (“metered spaces for everyone!”) into the discussion.

        We get it. You hate cars. You hate car owners and wish them ill. If they’re crime victims, they should reimburse the police and ask forgiveness from the chud who broke into their car.

        Know what? We’re not going anywhere. And your dream of a car-free NYC will never happen.

        • cranky uws says:

          Yeah, you tell him! Us poor car owners are always overlooked here! I’m sick and tired of these citi bike riding millenials telling me what to do! If you dont like it, too bad! We were here first so only we matter!

          • Scott says:

            Yeah, your comprehension level is pitiable.

            I didn’t say only we matter. What “Ann” is suggesting is that we don’t matter at all, and indeed have no rights to report crimes against our property, which is a novel legal argument, since cars are property just as bicycles or iPhones are.

            But you see, we’re freeloaders and Ann doesn’t like us. So we don’t get to use the justice system like all the non-freeloaders do.

            Interestingly, the police don’t share Ann’s views. They know people who break into cars commit other crimes. Some of those crimes may be against non-freeloading persons, people like Ann for instance. So maybe apprehending these criminals would be wise.

      • EricaC says:

        So … Ann, instead of thinking people should be able to leave their car in a public parking space, without someone damaging it, you think they should be doubly punished? Personally, I never had a car until I could afford a garage, but that was for my own convenience – not because I think it is somehow unreasonable to park on streets paid for with my taxes as well as everyone else’s. This kind of thinking is similar to the “it’s all about me, why should I help anyone else” thinking we see so much of.

        In a city, different people have different needs. Some need to park. Some need food stamps. Some need special bus service. Some need to walk their dog’s. Some need medical care. Some need education. Some need police assistance for domestic violence or other issues. All of us pay taxes, some of which goes to things we don’t need but someone else does. They pay taxes, some of which goes to things they don’t need but we do. That’s how large groups of people live together.

        I’m not yet ready to say that people should have to pay a fee to get the police to address a crime in which they are a victims. Yes, I think having insurance to cover theft of one’s belongings is a good idea – but a condition to the right to call upon the police when one has been robbed? I would not support that.

    5. Jim UWS says:

      This is because people are openly smoking and selling crack on West 110th Street. NY Post article yesterday. Crackheads need more money for crack; they break into cars to buy it.

    6. jimbo says:

      What happened to Danny Boy????

    7. Mike says:

      Interesting that these incidents are clustered. Not all over the place by any means. Check Riverside Drive for example. And police should plot more fine-grained timetable for other clusters — 76th & 77th for example. Sure, don’t leave visibly interesting things in your car. But police should look for patterns.

    8. NYC Needs Help! says:

      My brother’s car was recently robbed near Columbus Avenue in the West 90s. I am not saying it is just the Homeless stealing but there are people making a living from breaking into cars.
      We also need to help the Homeless population. I ride the train every day and get off at Chambers and there is always a strong smell of human urine and sometimes vomit in the platform. Don’t even think about riding in the elevators you will smell of urine after you get off. MR.MAYOR PLEASE CLEAN UP THE CHAMBERS STREET NO.1,2,3, STATION!

    9. Paul says:

      The map is very instructive.

      Note, for example, the incidents on RSD are near entrances to the park.

      Is there a link available so we can see updates? And for the 24th Pct?

    10. Rodger Lodger says:

      If you leave it they will come.