The Village of East Williston is one of the safest communities in the area, according to the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), but protecting the community remains a top priority for both residents and the village board. The board hosted two NCPD officers at their last meeting, who discussed crime in the village and ways residents could protect themselves from burglaries.
Officer Stephen Grasek said total crime was “down considerably” in East Williston from 2015, noting a 43 percent decrease.
Grasek’s records indicated four residential burglaries this year (on Wheatley Avenue, Feather Lane and Donald and High streets), compared to six last year. Three of those robberies had been closed out with two arrests. However, the board noted that there had been a fifth on Harvard Street on Nov. 29, which was not included in his report but had been reported to police. A resident also noted a discrepancy in the number of car burglaries—while Grasek’s records indicated there was one this year (compared to six in 2015), a resident indicated four had been reported this year on Facebook. That brought up concerns on whether residents were reporting all incidents to the police.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing criminal activity on Facebook, but the police can’t be charged with monitoring our activity on Facebook,” said board trustee James Iannone. “Share it [on Facebook] but also share it with the police. You don’t know what they can or can’t do. They may be able to identify criminals or a pattern or may know something we don’t.”
Grasek said during the Christmas season, there was usually an uptick in burglaries as people often have cash and gifts in their homes. One of the easiest ways to deter criminals, Grasek said, is to make sure houses look occupied.
“Even if you go out for a couple of hours, light your house up like a Christmas tree,” Grasek said. “Especially if you’re going away on vacation, have your newspaper stopped. Make sure the mail is held at the post office, tell your kids not to advertise that they’re going away on social media.”
Residents should set house alarms anytime they leave the house and make sure even second floor windows are locked, Grasek said, especially if there is easy access via an overhang. He noted burglars want to get in and out quickly, so houses closer to major thoroughfares are at a higher risk.
“They simply drive around the neighborhood and case areas, and look for houses that appear to be unoccupied,” Grasek said. “They look for a quick getaway, so if you’re close to a major road, it’s an easy access. They don’t want to get too deep, especially if the alarm goes off, because we can set up a perimeter pretty quickly.”
One squad car is assigned to the village, but when asked, Grasek indicated that it may be pulled away from the area if backup is required for a major incident, such as the recent train derailment in New Hyde Park.
He stressed that residents were the NCPD’s best source of information in preventing burglaries and catching criminals.
“You’re our eyes and ears,” Grasek said. “It only takes one phone call, one field interview, one suspicious person we stop in the area. We may not be able to make the arrest in the moment, but we have the information.”
When asked what else the village could be doing, Grasek encouraged them to continue the email blasts. The village board is still considering security cameras in the park as a pilot program, before potentially rolling them out to other areas in the village.