Sergeant Schmaeling of the Nassau County Police Department's First Precinct came to the North Merrick Public Library for a joint meeting of the North Bellmore and North and Central Merrick Civic Associations Tuesday, and he provided a local crime update and helpful tips on how to ensure the safety of both their property and themselves.
Schmaeling first discussed a suspicious person call that was up into his precinct who wound up simply being a door-to-door alarm system salesman. However, this was used as a segue into the dangers of criminals posing as salesmen who might come knocking on your door one day.
“If someone knocks on your door and they’re suspicious, or they don’t have proper ID, just don’t open the door,” Schmaeling said. “If they’re trying to sell you on some home improvement service, such as roofing or an alarm, just tell them that you rent, that you don’t own the house, and that you can’t get any work done. That always sends them away.”
Another incident involved a call reporting teen trespassers in a vacant lot in North Bellmore, and Schmaeling urged residents to always call police if they see anything or anyone in their neighborhood that seems out of place.
“If you see people that look suspicious in the area, or behind a closed fence at a school in the wee hours of the morning, always give us a call,” he said. “We’ll always come down and investigate.”
Schmaeling also informed residents of an increase of petty larcenies in the Bellmore and Merrick area in recent weeks, which have been mostly targeted at parked cars.
“This is a situation where if a marked police car drives down a block at four in the morning, and there’s people lurking in the shadows looking to break into cars, they’ll wait until the car goes by,” Schmaeling said. “That’s one of the disadvantages of driving a marked car.”
Schmaeling offered locals some advice on how to discourage break-ins on their vehicles late at night.
“Lock your doors, don’t leave pocketbooks, GPS devices, iPods and other items out in the open," he said. "Also, don’t leave your GPS suction cups on the window, or criminals will see them and know there’s something worth stealing in your car. Leave your house lights on. I have motion detector lights at my house. And if you can afford it, a camera is a great thing to have these days, because if someone breaks in and you have a video camera installed, that’s great evidence.”
The First Precinct has two cars they assign every night to cover specific crime patterns, which are now assigned to investigating this recent rash of vehicle petty larcenies in the Bellmore and Merrick areas, Schmaeling added.
“It’s worked in the past," he said. "We recently just caught two people from Queens breaking into cars here, but we also need you to keep your eyes open and report any suspicious activity. You can be in the safest neighborhood around, but it still pays to be careful."
Do you think the residents need to be more vocal in reporting suspicious incidents? Tell us in the comments.