East Side Businesses Wary of Gatecrashers

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:03

Some small Upper East Side shop owners are concerned about recent middle-of-the-night burglaries; police precinct issues warning

In mid-September, a beloved Upper East Side diner was struck on two separate occasions by burglars. While one of the burglaries involved a disgruntled former business partner, the other was part of a much larger trend.

Throughout August and September, pizzerias, laundromats and shoe repair stores fell victim to burglars who would pry open gates and jimmie locks to gain access to the store, then smash registers and steal cash.

Following this recent spate of middle-of-the-night burglaries on the Upper East Side, Our Town spoke to several other small businesses in the vicinity to discuss matters of security.

While at least ten shops between East 75th and East 85th Streets - from mom 'n' pop pizzerias to laundromats to shoe repair stores - had heard nothing of the burglaries, workers who had heard about them expressed mixed reactions.

Steven Tevli, who manages The Source, a paper store near E. 80th Street and Third Avenue, had not heard about the burglaries, but says he hasn't been concerned about security at his store for a long time. At the time we spoke, Tevli, the only employee working, was taking a lengthy smoke break outside while perusers meandered through the store.

Tevli had a store less than a block away prior to The Source and notes the '80s and '90s were much rougher times for the area.

"I had my windows broken all the time so I got gates," says Tevli. "Now I don't even have gates."

Michael Shua, who works at Charles Locksmith and Hardware just around the corner, says they are often, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first to hear of break-ins, whether they involve residences or stores.

"Security is always a concern," says Shua, whose store has a roll-down security gate. "There have been a lot of break-ins around here for awhile."

"We hear these stories all the time from our neighbors," he adds.

Some of the stories they hear require certain measures of elaborate planning, involving glued locks or entering the store from a rooftop and breaking down walls.

An employee, Susan, at Splendid Cleaners at E. 76th Street and Third Avenue has heard about the recent break-ins and says they generally happen on the side streets, like First and Second Avenues, where there is less foot traffic and carryover security measures (for instance, from a bigger business nearby.)

"It happened at my friend's laundromat," says Susan. Her friend's laundromat is located on E. 71st Street between First and Second Avenues.

Susan says Splendid has both a roll-down gate and an alarm system, but she's not sure how much they cost to maintain. For small businesses operating in the area, sophisticated security measures could come at too high a price.

The 19th precinct, which covers the area in question, released a crime alert to businesses, citing this pattern of burglaries. The alert urged shopkeepers not to leave cash in the store at night, to leave cash registers unlocked to prevent burglars from smashing and destroying them and to securely lock security gates and doors.

Despite this recent onslaught of burglaries, overall burglaries are actually down dramatically compared to this time last year. The most recent statistics from the NYPD show that burglaries in the 19th precinct are down 12.1 percent from this time last year.