Just read the comments on : In these threads you can sense the community's fear.
They and the emails sent to Patch read like true-crime scenes from a paperback novel or a futuristic police state: They have included:
"There are my neighborhood."
"; it just ended in my backyard."
And this one:
"We are heading to become the next Queens/Brooklyn County."
Since the fall, Plainview has appeared under siege, a suburban sanctuary targeted by outsiders bent on plundering our laptops, jewelry and stashes of cash. Each week, burglaries are reported here and in nearby communities like Syosset, Bethpage and Hicksville.
On Tuesday night, an with ties to Neighborhood Watch associations will host a meeting at the to address the mounting fear that is gripping Plainview. The 7 p.m. will include Nassau County Police officers who will answer questions and suggest a community-wide defense strategy.
Detectives in the second precinct, which covers the bulk of Plainview (the area north of Old Country Road) say the increase in burglary is real and they have altered their approach to fight the problem.
The numbers offer proof of a diquieting trend: Residential burglaries rose from 26 in November, 2010, to 32 this November, a 24 percent increase, Nassau PBA figures show.
Major crimes, a category that ranges from murder to auto theft, rose 32 percent over the same period in this area. The second precinct, based in Woodbury, stretches from Plainview and Hicksville northward to Syosset, Oyster Bay and Bayville on Long Island Sound.
This year to date, there have been 163 burglaries, compared with 162 over last year to date reported in the second precinct. During the same 11-month period, 146 were reported in 2009 and 109 in 2008.
The eighth precinct, which covers the portion of Plainview south of Old Country Road to Massapequa, saw a 70 percent increase in total burglarlies last month over the previous year's November, the PBA figures show.
But when November is factored into the rest of the year, the total crime numbers actually trend downward by more than 4 percent.
Experts admit they don't know why the burglaries are happening now. They have not determined a pattern to the people responsible. The economy may be a factor, but it may simply be a matter of geography or bad luck. Many community members believe "outsiders," criminal elements from New York City, are perpetrating these crimes.
In fact: Not one of the people arrested so far in connection with these crimes were from outside Nassau County." In the most visible case, a was charged last week with staging a burglary at her Plainview customer's home. The man charged in the 2000-pound at a Plainview freight depot is from Roosevelt. A Hicksville man was charged with a burglary last week: The burglary took place in Hicksville.
"A lot of people's perception of crime does not correlate to the actual reality of crimes," said Dr. Eli Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. "The element of fear exaggerates those perceptions."
Several factors must be weighed to determine how serious the local crime wave really is. There are no easy answers.
According to Silverman:
Motivation: There are many motives for crime and not all are fueled by profit or drug addiction. "Greed is such a catch-all phrase," said Silverman, whose new book, "The Crime Numbers Game," is due out next month by publisher Taylor and Francis. "There is a monetary element in it, but you would have to know the characteristics of the criminals and study the numbers over a period of time."
News coverage: Patch and others allow instant access to the news and cover local events which larger news organizations pay less attention to. There may not be dramatically more crimes than usual; there may be more reporting of them.
The economy: A faltering economy has "much less of an impact than people would think," said Silverman. For example, crime did not go up during the Great Depression. And a 2010 study reported in the New York Times confounded the experts, again pointing to a decrease in reported crimes during poor economic times. "There is generally a lag," he said. "It does not cause an immediate change in (criminal) behavior."
In fact, both violent and property crimes declined nationwide during the first six months of the year, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI. Violent crimes declined by 6.4 percent; property rimes, such as burglary, fell 3.7 percent. Nationwide, burglaries fell by just over 2 percent, according to the FBI's data.
"There are a host of variables," Silverman said.
The police hunt burglars by looking for trends: Amateurs or professionals? What time of day? How did they enter? In general, professionals case out their targeted homes for days to determine when they are vacant.
Nassau County Det. Sgt. David Curry said the spike in Plainview-area crimes is real and our location, right off the Long Island Expressway and the Northern State Parkway, makes it vulnerable to predators looking for an easy score and a quick getaway.
To counter that, Nassau cops have increased patrols and are using unmarked civilian cars to keep watch over neighborhoods.
The patrols are looking for people who "don't belong" in the neighborhood, including occupied cars parked on quiet side streets. When the occupant appears suspicious to them, police begin asking questions and running plates, Curry said.
Curry offered these tips to deter burglaries:
- Leave a radio or TV on when no one is home. A flickering TV will deter many burglars.
- Install an alarm and put it on, even if you leave for only a short time.
- Lock your windows and doors. Many burglars go through back yards looking for easy points of entry. A simple lock can make the difference.
- If you see something suspicious, don't hesitate to contact the police using 911. He stressed that patrols are not annoyed or feel put upon by a call for help, even if it's a false alarm.