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catalytic converter

File photo by Victoria Espinoza
By Aidan Johnson

Suffolk County Police Department’s 6th Precinct held its monthly community meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the precinct’s headquarters in Selden, addressing a number of pressing public safety concerns. 

The meeting was hosted by Deputy Inspector Eric D’Agostino, who discussed the crime statistics of the towns within the 6th Precinct during the month of July.

A total of 597 crimes were reported to the precinct in July, a 2.2% increase from the 584 crimes reported in July of 2021. The crimes included one homicide, three robberies, nine aggravated assaults, 10 grand larceny autos and 14 burglaries.

The community meeting also touched upon the alarming new crime trend of catalytic converter theft from cars, specifically Honda CRVs, Honda Accords and Ford trucks. These incidents have taken place in all Suffolk police precincts and have occurred at residential and commercial locations.

Additionally, single vehicles and large commercial fleets have both been targeted. These crimes currently include multiple persons of interest. [To read more about this crime phenomenon, see TBR News Media story, “Catalytic converter theft on the rise in Suffolk County,” Feb. 24 this year.]

In July, three robberies were reported to the 6th Precinct, two of which occurred in Miller Place, the other in Setauket. There were also two trigger pulls last month, but nobody was shot. This figure represents a drop from the five reported pulled triggers and six shot during July of last year.

The police department is also investigating a series of 15 burglaries at gas stations throughout the county. Most incidents captured a man in a Dodge Caravan pulling up to the establishments, and he was arrested.

D’Agostino also discussed the Multi-agency ATV Task Force. Last month, 11 ATVs were impounded, bringing the year-to-date total up to 39, and 15 ATV summonses were issued, bringing the annual-to-date total up to 56.

There were 30 drug overdoses in July, with only one fatality. Of the overdoses, 22 were by men, and eight by women. This was a slight decrease from last July, when there were 34 drug overdoses, with one fatality.

From June 30 to July 29, there were 10 vehicles stolen, five of which were recovered while the other five remain missing. D’Agostino reminded community members to never leave their key fobs in unlocked cars, along with anything that can be perceived to be valuable.

He suggested keeping cars in garages if possible, or parking them in well-lit areas to deter thieves from trying to steal the catalytic converters. In order to protect homes, he recommended putting out alarm signs, installing floodlights and making sure that all doors are locked.

File photo

During the most recent Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees meeting, a representative from Suffolk County Police gave an update to residents about what has been happening locally and across the county with crime.

On Monday, March 7, chief of constables Fred Leute joined the officer clarifying statistics from Feb. 7 through March 7 comparing 2021 to this year. The officer noted that across Long Island, catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed, as well as car thefts.

“Please lock your cars,” Leute said. “A continual problem across Suffolk County and across New York State are people targeting residential areas, checking doorknobs on cars and taking what is inside.”

Both Leute and the officer agreed that keeping a close watch on one’s personal vehicle is important, especially if the car has a garage opener. “If you have a garage opener and they break into your car, then they have access to your home and you,” Leute said. 

The police representative added that across the county, they are seeing an uptick in people leaving their keys in a running car, allowing people easy access to the vehicle.

“Don’t leave the keys in your car,” she said. “We’re seeing an uptick in people leaving their cars running at locations such as gas stations and 7/11’s with people hopping in and going for a joy ride.”

More locally, Leute mentioned calls about vehicles illegally parking in handicap spots down Main Street, particularly in the spot on the corner next to Starbucks. 

The officer added that in the past year, there has been an uptick in general calls for service, but a decline in assaults (zero in this time period). She reported there is an active investigation on one burglary, one criminal mischief charge and one larceny that was cleared by an arrest. 

She added that ambulance calls have gone up slightly, with one overdose ambulance call during this time period. She was happy to report that motor vehicle accidents have decreased significantly from 15 to just one. 

Recent shooting

Residents at the meeting were concerned over events that occurred early Monday morning Down Port.

“We did have a shooting occur just two buildings over [from Village Hall] over by the town parking lot across from SaGhar restaurant,” the officer reported.

While details were unavailable due to the active investigation, she said that the village cameras have been instrumental in helping and that she was, “pleased to tell you we have a suspect identified and we are currently seeking that suspect.”