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Burglary

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We should secure our homes and cars when we are not in them. Stock photo

Sun’s out, thieves out.

As Long Island heats up after a long, cold winter, so does criminal behavior.

We’ve been seeing more and more reports of larcenies, burglaries and stolen property as the weather warms up. It may tick up from here into summer, which would be nothing new in the world of crime patterns. But many of these incidents can be avoided if people would just use their heads.

That means locking our cars when we’re not in them, and not leaving purses and other valuables inside — and especially not in full view of every passerby.

It also means turning the cars off and not leaving the keys inside. One of our reporters once called the police after spotting an idling but empty car in a parking lot, the lights on and the driver’s side door ajar. About five minutes later, a man who may or may not have been the owner got into the car and drove away.

Leaving a car running and walking away from it is foolish, whether we are in a parking lot or in front of our own house. Why tempt fate?

We should also remember to close the windows in our houses when we aren’t there. This one is tricky because it’s hot outside and there could be a lot of windows open. But we should all be in the habit of doing it just like we are in the habit of locking our front doors, because open windows can make an easy access point for burglars.

Sometimes we cannot prevent a criminal from breaking in and stealing something, but we can reduce our risk by securing our belongings as much as possible.

New DNA-based marker technology to aid town residents in securing property

Above, a view of the technology, called DNANet. Photo from Applied DNA Sciences

A new public safety pilot program in Huntington Station puts crime-fighting in the hands of residents by providing them with innovative DNA-based technology to mark up property susceptible to burglary.

Last week, Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) was joined by County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and other elected officials in Huntington Station, where a new device manufactured by Stony Brook-based Applied DNA Sciences was introduced as part of a pilot program in the town. The kit called DNANet comes with a special marker that can be used to mark up to 100 valuables and assets in a home in an effort to keep track of goods if stolen or removed from the home.

“When I was approached last year by the scientists at Applied DNA Sciences with this unique technology, it was clear that it has great potential to be an effective tool in keeping communities safer,” Spencer stated in a press release. “Increasing public safety in Huntington Station and all of Suffolk County has always been a central focus of mine. Bringing in this resource will make this great community even better.”

Suffolk County is paying for the pilot program, which will cost $25,000.

The kits will be distributed to 500 homes in Huntington Station in areas with high burglary rates. Residents will be asked to perform in the study, mark up items and register them with the company.

The mark is not visible to the naked eye. A UV lamp will be needed to see the distinctive mark.

“You can’t see it [and] you can’t scratch it off,“ Spencer said in a phone interview Monday.

When items are stolen, burglars tend to trade the goods to pawn shops for quick cash. The new device will also force shop owners to carefully record data when items are pawned.

“Now it will be harder to pawn stolen goods,” Spencer said.

Once an item with the DNA code is run through the website’s database, it will match to a particular person and address. In the past, reuniting goods with an owner has proved to be difficult because there is no proof of ownership, according to Spencer. The mark would help prove ownership, he said.

Spencer hopes this new initiative will help increase item recoveries, theft convictions and decrease low level petit theft.

“This technology is another tool our police can use against crime,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a press release. “Our police will be able to address and solve theft of personal property with the information made available by DNAweb.”

According to Spencer, studies show the DNA mark has proven to last up to 350 years. Also if the owner sells an item, a call can be made to have the item removed from the database to prevent confusion.

The program is expected to begin in Huntington Station and Huntington shortly as officials wanted to focus in areas with high crime. The program will be evaluated after six months to see if there has been an improvement in recoveries and convictions. Residents who participate in the program can also put signs on their lawns alerting people the system is in use.

Once the evaluation is over, the Suffolk County Police Department will decide whether to recommend the program expand.

File photo

Police say two people charged with a hate crime on Monday afternoon targeted elderly people, pretending to collect donations for a church before committing burglary.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers from the 2nd Precinct responded to a 911 call about the suspects posing as church representatives to gain access to an elderly woman’s apartment in Paumanack Village in Greenlawn, then stealing property from her.

Police officers Frank Muoio and Todd Regan found suspects Heather Marchese, 23, and Sean DiStefano, a 24-year-old Shoreham resident, within the apartment complex and arrested them. Both were charged with second-degree burglary as a hate crime. Marchese, who is homeless, was also charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Marchese and DiStefano, who both had other unrelated charges already pending against them, including criminal possession and traffic law violations, were listed on the New York State court system’s online database as representing themselves and could not be reached for comment.

Police said an investigation — by 2nd Squad detectives and the Hate Crimes Unit — has indicated that there may be other victims, and that the suspects targeted the elderly.

Anyone who may have been a target in the scheme is asked to call the Hate Crimes Unit at 631-852-6323.

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