Riverhead Town officials are planning to increase the number of surveillance cameras in locations throughout the town, while police also urge residents to lock their vehicles to deter break-ins that have been on the rise across the East End.
Police Chief David Hegermiller, while discussing the latest police statistics at Thursday’s work session, urged residents to not leave any valuables inside a vehicle.
“A lot of the time, there’s no forced entry,” he said. ”The the door is open. They will just take what’s inside.”
Southold Town police have also seen a spike in recent weeks of reports of vehicle break-ins, and have issued several public service announcements to remind residents to be vigilant and lock their doors. A public safety alert was issued Aug. 16 via push notification on mobile phones, encouraging people in the town to report any suspicious activity to police.
“There has been a rash of break-ins of vehicles in many of the hamlets,” Riverhead Councilman Frank Beyrodt said at the work session.
The Town Board last week authorized the expenditure of $200,000 of federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for additional surveillance cameras in downtown Riverhead.
Chief Hegermiller said the first camera project was divided into five phases. The first two phases put cameras in the police headquarters parking lot; the next phase put them at the railroad station, followed by Grangebel Park, the chief said.
The camera system was paid for with federal grants.
The first four phases are done, the chief said. The fifth phase is the Peconic River boardwalk.
“At the time, we had enough grant money to buy all the equipment for that phase, but not enough money to do the installation,” Chief Hegemiller said. “As the money became available, we implemented the phases. The Peconic River boardwalk was the last project.”
The town last Tuesday also authorized putting cameras into other areas, such as the parking lot on the north side of Main Street and east of Griffing Avenue; the parking lot adjacent to Peconic Avenue; the lot adjacent to the north side of Grangebel Park, and adjacent to Main Street, and additional cameras at police headquarters.
The town hired A+ Technology & Security Solutions for the installation and operation of the multi-phase camera system.
Chief Hegermiller presented the most recent statistics to the Town Board, which show a year-to-year increase in July for nearly category, with motor vehicle accidents as a lone exception.
“Everything is up,” the chief told board members.
The increases follow dramatic drop in arrests that the town saw in the first half of 2020 when the pandemic hit and people were largely stuck at home. Total arrests made in the first half of 2020 had dropped by 98% compared to the same six-month period in 2019.
The July 2022 report showed the following figures with the 2021 comparison. The statistics for 2022 are largely on par with with what the town saw in 2019, the year before the pandemic.
• Calls received: 3,226, an increase from 2,761.
• Summonses issued: 1,128, an increase from 717.
• Arraignments: 42, an increase from 28.
• Arrests: 61, an increase from 33.
• Non-criminal incidents: 2,991, an increase from 2,567.
Crimes that led to arrests included driving while intoxicated, assault, burglary, criminal contempt among others.
There have been 1,306 criminal incidents in the town through the first seven months of the year, which is on pace to be below average for what the town reported in a five-year span before the pandemic. From 2015-2019, the average number of yearly criminal incidents was 2,507.