Residents claim rash of car break-ins along Howard Beach block

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THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Residents of one Howard Beach block have been victims of several car break-ins.

Lock your doors – residents of one Howard Beach block fear car break-ins are becoming the norm.

Rita Pristina’s Mercedes has been broken into three times since July outside her 90th Street home. After the third time, she installed a metal pole that retracts in and out of the ground, keeping the car secure in her driveway.

“This is the way we have to live, which is terrible,” she said.

During the third incident, just two weeks ago, Pristina’s car alarm woke her up around 1:30 a.m. She opened her bedroom window and claims she saw a tall man wearing all black inside her car. She yelled and said “get away from the car,” and the thief allegedly fled.

Fortunately, all they took was the car’s “push to start” button.

After installing the metal pole, Pristina additionally installed a camera system outside her home.

“I feel horrible that I’m the one that has to live behind bars,” she said. “We happen to be honest, tax-paying people, but we’re the ones that feel like we’re incarcerated.”

Pristina’s next door neighbor, Mary Ellen Krowicki, has also run into similar problems.

Her Lexus was broken into, as well as her daughter’s boyfriend’s Mitsubishi, both of which were parked street-side outside her home. Quarters that Krowicki uses for parking meters were taken, and other things were thrown around the car.

“I’ve lived here 34 years and never had a problem,” Krowicki said.

The pair took their concerns to the 106th Precinct Community Council’s October meeting. They both had never reported the incidents, with the exception of Pristina’s third break-in, because they assumed they were “petty” crimes.

However, the precinct’s new Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, said that no matter how small the crime, always report it. That way, precinct officers can pinpoint a potentially problematic area and keep watch on crime-prone blocks.

“Now that it’s going on, no matter what, report it,” Krowicki said. “They have to report it so we can get the help we need.”