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Get rolling! Cops must catch handicap parking pass pilferers: Gravesenders

Brooklyn Daily
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The disabled need the police to get moving.

Cops must step up patrols and catch the fleet-footed fiends breaking into cars in Gravesend and stealing handicap parking passes, locals say. The pilfering pranksters took seven of the state-issued placards from the Contello Towers co-op’s parking lot and nearby Shore Parkway since Halloween, residents said. Now the co-op’s security honcho says cops have to mobilize to fend off punks preying on the disabled.

“The main thing is there’s no police presence,” said Contello Towers’ head of security Wayne Parker. “That’s the bottom line. If there was, we wouldn’t be having this problem.”

The crime spree began when the thieves busted into four vehicles in the Cropsey Avenue co-op’s parking lot at 4:30 am on Oct. 31. Later that night, they moved on to Shore Parkway — where co-op residents opting for free street parking leave their cars — and took another three passes after breaking into nine cars, according to co-op president Peter Goldfinger. The break-ins have continued since, residents report.

But strangely, the thieves are disregarding pricey electronics on their quest for easy parking — something that caught residents off guard.

“I was surprised when someone told me they had the portable GPS and it wasn’t taken,” said Gary Melamed.

Drivers can use the placards in any car, because the state issues them to people rather than vehicles, according to information from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

One resident, however, reported a pair of $600 sunglasses missing from a car, Parker said.

Thieves targeted Acuras and Hondas during the spree, bizarrely writing the apparently sarcastic hash tag “#sosorry” on the front windshields of at least two vehicles they hit, Melamed said.

The bratty burglars busted door handles to gain entry, and most vehicle owners had to cough up $400–$500 for repairs, he said.

Since Halloween, the area around Contello Towers has suffered numerous car break-ins during the weekend’s early-morning hours, when the co-op’s eagle-eyed security supervisor Richard Alfonso is off duty, Parker said.

“When he’s here, on the premises, nothing happens,” the security head explained. “He’s always watching. Even when he’s on lunch, he watches.”

To combat the late-night thefts, the co-op has contracted extra rent-a-cops to patrol the grounds during early-morning hours on weekends, but they’re not as professional as police — or as effective, according to Parker.

“The security guy we have right now is not the best in the world,” he said. “A lot of these guys, they make $9 an hour, and they don’t care.”

The 60 Precinct has plans to increase their presence in the vicinity of Shore Parkway and Contello Towers by deploying several specialized undercover units patrolling in unmarked cars, in an effort to combat the “chronic” break-ins, a source in the precinct said.

“[Police are] always there, they’re patrolling, they’re aware of it, and they’re watching,” the officer said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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