Archive for January, 2011


Monday, January 31st, 2011

You’ve seen it in movies: A girl walks through an isolated parking garage. Suddenly, an evil-looking guy jumps out from behind an SUV. Girl jabs bad guy in the eyes with her keys — or maybe she kicks him in a certain sensitive place. Either way, while he’s squirming, she leaps into her car and speeds to safety.

That’s the movies. Here’s the real-life action replay: When the girl goes to jab or kick the guy, he knows what’s coming and grabs her arm (or leg), pulling her off balance. Enraged by her attempt to fight back, he flips her onto the ground. Now she’s in a bad place to defend herself — and she can’t run away.

Many people think of self-defense as a karate kick to the groin or jab in the eyes of an attacker. But self-defense actually means doing everything possible to avoid fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. Self-defense is all about using your smarts — not your fists.

Use Your Head

People (guys as well as girls) who are threatened and fight back "in self-defense" actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may become even more angry and violent. The best way to handle any attack or threat of attack is to try to get away. This way, you’re least likely to be injured.

One way to avoid a potential attack before it happens is to trust your instincts. Your intuition, combined with your common sense, can help get you out of trouble. For example, if you’re running alone on the school track and you suddenly feel like you’re being watched, that could be your intuition telling you something. Your common sense would then tell you that it’s a good idea to get back to where there are more people around.

De-Escalating a Bad Situation

Attackers aren’t always strangers who jump out of dark alleys. Sadly, teens can be attacked by people they know. That’s where another important self-defense skill comes into play. This skill is something self-defense experts and negotiators call de-escalation.

De-escalating a situation means speaking or acting in a way that can prevent things from getting worse. The classic example of de-escalation is giving a robber your money rather than trying to fight or run. But de-escalation can work in other ways, too. For example, if someone harasses you when there’s no one else around, you can de-escalate things by agreeing with him or her. You don’t have to actually believe the taunts, of course, you’re just using words to get you out of a tight spot. Then you can redirect the bully’s focus ("Oops, I just heard the bell for third period"), and calmly walk away from the situation.

Something as simple as not losing your temper can de-escalate a situation. Learn how to manage your own anger effectively so that you can talk or walk away without using your fists or weapons.

Although de-escalation won’t always work, it can only help matters if you remain calm and don’t give the would-be attacker any extra ammunition. Whether it’s a stranger or someone you thought you could trust, saying and doing things that don’t threaten your attacker can give you some control.

Reduce Your Risks

Another part of self-defense is doing things that can help you stay safe. Here are some tips from the National Crime Prevention Council and other experts:

  • Understand your surroundings. Walk or hang out in areas that are open, well lit, and well traveled. Become familiar with the buildings, parking lots, parks, and other places you walk. Pay particular attention to places where someone could hide — such as stairways and bushes.
  • Avoid shortcuts that take you through isolated areas.
  • If you’re going out at night, travel in a group.
  • Make sure your friends and parents know your daily schedule (classes, sports practice, club meetings, etc.). If you go on a date or with friends for an after-game snack, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Check out hangouts. Do they look safe? Are you comfortable being there? Ask yourself if the people around you seem to share your views on fun activities — if you think they’re being reckless, move on.
  • Be sure your body language shows a sense of confidence. Look like you know where you’re going and act alert.
  • When riding on public transportation, sit near the driver and stay awake. Attackers are looking for vulnerable targets.
  • Carry a cell phone if possible. Make sure it’s programmed with your parents’ phone number.
  • Be willing to report crimes in your neighborhood and school to the police.
  • Take a Self-Defense Class-

    The best way — in fact the only way — to prepare yourself to fight off an attacker is to take a self-defense class. We’d love to give you all the right moves in an article, but some things you just have to learn in person.

    A good self-defense class can teach you how to size up a situation and decide what you should do. Self-defense classes can also teach special techniques for breaking an attacker’s grasp and other things you can do to get away. For example, attackers usually anticipate how their victim might react — that kick to the groin or jab to the eyes, for instance. A good self-defense class can teach you ways to surprise your attacker and catch him or her off guard.

    One of the best things people take away from self-defense classes is self-confidence. The last thing you want to be thinking about during an attack is, "Can I really pull this self-defense tactic off?" It’s much easier to take action in an emergency if you’ve already had a few dry runs.

    A self-defense class should give you a chance to practice your moves. If you take a class with a friend, you can continue practicing on each other to keep the moves fresh in your mind long after the class is over.

    Check out your local YMCA, community hospital, or community center for classes. If they don’t have them, they may be able to tell you who does. Your PE teacher or school counselor may also be a great resource.

Cops probe North Hempstead home invasions

Thursday, January 20th, 2011


Cops probe North Hempstead home invasions

Published: December 16, 2010 10:15 PM

The scene of a home invasion that took

Photo credit: Uli Seit | The scene of a home invasion that took place in, Kings Point, N.Y. (Dec. 16, 2010)


Nassau police hold a news conference, and neighbors Home invasions

He enters at night, usually through unlocked windows or back doors he can pry open, perhaps a screen he can slice and hoist himself through. He prefers to confront girls and women – his victims ranging in age from 5 to 63.

He doesn’t speak, seems to provoke face-to-face contact with his victims, does not spend a lot of time "casing" the locations where he will strike – but he is not interested in money and may have a sexual motive at the root of his crimes.

That’s the profile Nassau police say is emerging of the man they believe committed at least four home intrusions overnight in Great Neck and Kings Point on Sunday and Wednesday – and authorities are concerned that he is getting bolder with each attack.

In fact, one attack Wednesday was reported on Lighthouse Road at 3:15 a.m., 25 minutes after another one was reported on the same street at a home where police were likely still on the scene investigating.

"Of course we’re worried that his behavior is going to escalate," said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the Nassau County Police Department, during a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola. "There’s no question about that."

The intruder made physical contact with three of four victims, holding a cloth over one teenage girl’s mouth, pinching closed the lips of a 5-year-old girl and holding a knife to the neck of a 61-year-old woman whom he attacked as she slept, police said.

Smith and Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki advised people to close and lock windows and doors, set home alarm systems, and call police upon hearing suspicious sounds.

"We recognize communities are living in quite a state of anxiety right now and we are doing everything we can," Skrynecki said.

Skrynecki said police have been working overnight scanning field interviews of thousands of traffic stops and have begun examining old cases with similar details, including one in 2008 that was eerily similar.

In that instance, a man entered a home in Great Neck and confronted a woman, but no arrest was made in the case, Skrynecki said.

Police are examining forensic materials: They hope to extract DNA material from a hat the intruder left at a home in Great Neck during the first attack Sunday. Skrynecki said police patrols have been beefed up in the area.

"We don’t have a certain motive," Skrynecki said. "But his conduct certainly would lead us to consider that some sexual motive may be in place here, since there have been confrontations with females and there have been opportunities to take property, and he hasn’t taken property."

The most recent attack, at 4:43 a.m. Wednesday, involved a knife that the suspect held against the throat of a 61-year-old woman, who wrestled it away and freed herself after the suspect tried to hold her down in her bed.

She chased him down the stairs and he escaped out a back door.

That attack inside a home on Lighthouse Road was the first instance in which a weapon was used, Smith said, adding that the knife probably came from the woman’s kitchen.

Earlier, at 3:15 a.m. the same day, at a home on Lighthouse Road in Kings Point, a 63-year-old woman woke up when she heard banging and glass shattering in her home, a disturbance that set off the home’s alarm system, police said.

She came downstairs and saw a man silently peering at her and her live-in aide through the broken glass of her back door before he left, police said.

Police said the fact that he lingered to exchange glances with his victim suggests he wanted to be seen by his victims.

That incident occurred as police were likely still at another home on Lighthouse Road, where at 2:50 a.m. the man startled a 5-year-old girl who mistook him for her father.

Smith said the man put his hand over the girl’s mouth, as if to force her to remain quiet.

He may have spent as much as 10 minutes inside the house.

He did not speak or make a sound. But the girl called out, "Daddy?" She screamed, alerting her parents, as the intruder ran outside a rear door, Smith said.

"We’re lucky my husband woke up in time that he didn’t harm us, didn’t harm our kid," said the girl’s mother, who said the man stood in the hallway outside the bedroom of her two children, who are 1 and 5 years old.

He apparently entered the home through a bathroom window, she said.

The mother said she told her daughter that the man had probably lost his way and mistakenly walked into the wrong house.

"She’s not aware of the degree of harm that it could have been," the mother said, adding that she will always set her home alarm system to ward off intruders.

The earliest incident occurred Sunday when the man entered the bedroom of a 15-year-old girl on West Shore Road in Great Neck, and held a wet cloth across her face.

The suspect is described as 25 to 30 years old, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and about 200 pounds. He has black hair and was wearing a wool cap, black jacket, blue jeans and black shoes with silver buckle-type loops on the sides.

Detectives request anyone with information about these invasions to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.

Cops probe North Hempstead home invasions

Another home invasion try in Kings Point

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Originally published: January 19, 2011 4:09 PM
Updated: January 19, 2011 9:48 PM

A man attempted to break into a home

Photo credit: Charles Eckert | A man attempted to break into a home through the bedroom window on Gay Drive in Kings Point, police said. (Jan. 19, 2011)


Nassau police are investigating whether a man who they say tried to break into a Kings Point home early Wednesday is the intruder suspected in a rash of home invasions that have terrorized several women and girls.

"We can’t be 100 percent certain it’s the same individual, but it seems to fit the pattern," said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, a police spokesman.

Smith said a 17-year-old resident of Gay Drive twice heard a noise outside while in her bedroom at about 1:15 a.m. Her family called police, who responded immediately and searched the area.

VIDEOS: Cops announce breakthrough | Neighbors react | Hammer attack

PHOTOS: Nassau home invasions

Police said the latest incident is the seventh time a man has used a similar method to enter or try to get into homes in Great Neck or Kings Point since Nov. 30. The suspect remains unidentified, police said, and is believed not to use a vehicle.

Police are trying to determine if the suspect is the same man who they say held a wet rag over a 15-year-old girl’s mouth while she slept, who pressed a knife to 61-year-old woman’s throat, or who pinched a 5-year-old girl’s lips to silence her when she discovered him outside her bedroom.

Recently, DNA evidence recovered at the scene of one of the burglaries connected an intruder to a hammer attack on a woman in Hempstead last July and the 2009 kidnapping and rape of a 2-year-old girl in Texas.

In Wednesday’s incident, Smith said, police canvassed the area, spotted the man’s footprints in snow and followed them and his scent with the help of canine units.

In addition, detectives have begun studying a neighbor’s surveillance video, which captured a man wearing black pants, a blue hooded sweatshirt and white shoes or sneakers. That video is being compared to footage provided by Home Depot of the man linked to the Hempstead attack.

Kings Point Police Commissioner John F. Miller said the alarm at the Gay Drive house was engaged but did not go off, adding that the man seems to have trudged through the snow and disappeared in the woods of Kings Point Park.

"I think we came pretty close to getting this guy last night," Smith said.

Smith said it appeared the intruder was using the park nearby to get to and leave the areas he’s hitting.

Marsha Rotman, president of Kings Point Civic Association, said the community has been lucky that no one has been hurt, though the incidents have unnerved both villages.

"I think our luck is running out," Rotman said. "How many times can you be lucky? Eventually something’s going to happen."

Another home invasion try in Kings Point

Masked intruders terrorize Eastport couple

Saturday, January 8th, 2011


Masked intruders terrorize Eastport couple

Heavily-armed Suffolk County police emergency service officers at

Photo credit: James Carbone | Heavily-armed Suffolk County police emergency service officers at home where suspects were believed held-up at 46 Union Avenue in Eastport. (Jan. 7, 2011)


Armed Suffolk County police emergency service officers outside Eastport couple terrorized by intruders

Two masked men terrorized an Eastport couple Friday, binding them with duct tape and plastic ties and ransacking their house, police said, in a home invasion with echoes of a notorious Connecticut case.

The assailants – one armed with a small black handgun – then ordered the 38-year-old husband to go get more cash or his wife, 37, would be harmed, according to police. The husband drove alone to a Chase bank in Center Moriches, withdrawing an unknown sum from his account, but his demeanor caused an employee to call 911, police said.

Police descended on the bank just as the man was leaving with his cash withdrawal, and the husband told the responding officers about the invasion, authorities said.

Believing there was a hostage situation, Seventh Precinct officers surrounded the house, cordoning off the block in the largely wooded area in a siege that lasted for hours. Heavily armed Emergency Services officers brought an armored vehicle to the scene.

Police said they found the wife bound but otherwise uninjured in the backseat of one of the couple’s cars, which was parked in the driveway of the modest two-story home.

Authorities said the intruders told her to lie on the backseat and be quiet. She didn’t know where the assailants went.

When police arrived, they thought the home invaders might still be in the house and summoned a hostage negotiator before approaching.

It was shortly after 11 a.m. that they discovered the female victim. Hours more passed before it was determined the assailants had left, police said.

Detectives say they believe the house was targeted, but that the victims did not know the perpetrators.

No arrests have been made. Authorities say the burglars took the woman’s diamond ring, the man’s necklace, two computers, cash and wallets.

Police said this is how the incident unfolded:

As the man opened his front door to go out about 9:05 a.m., the two masked men were waiting outside the door. They pushed their way in. The victim struggled with them briefly, but the home invaders overpowered him and bound the man and his wife, also blindfolding them with tape.

At first, the couple was held in their kitchen. Then one of the intruders took the wife to the couple’s bedroom and left her on the bed. After the men scooped up valuables around the house, they demanded more money at gunpoint. The husband persuaded them to let him go to the bank to get more money.

"I think the implication was it was going to be a significant amount of money," said Det. Sgt. John Best.

The wife believes her husband had left when the robbers put her, still bound, in the car – a disabled white Volvo station wagon that was one of many on the property. The husband has a car-scrapping business, police said.

Police said it was unclear why the robbers fled without waiting for the promised cash from the bank. The wife said she was removed from the bedroom 30 to 45 minutes after she was put there.

As the situation unfolded, Eastport Elementary School, a half-mile away, was placed on a modified lockdown Friday afternoon, school officials said. Students were released at their usual dismissal time.

Police blocked access to Union Avenue well into the evening as they continued to collect evidence at the house.

A neighbor, Pete Jespersen, witnessed at least part of the day’s events; he said he saw an officer approach the victims’ house with a drawn gun. He said police told him to leave his backyard and get inside.

At the Triangle Pub, a popular restaurant and bar a few blocks from the crime scene, the break-in was the topic of the night.

"This stuff never happens around here," said Brendan Neary of Eastport. "Everybody knows everybody."

The case was reminiscent, in some aspects, to a Connecticut home invasion that led to the murders of three members of the Petit family in Cheshire in July 2007. During the ordeal, Jennifer Hawke-Petit withdrew money from her bank to appease intruders who ended up killing her and her two daughters. Her husband, who was savagely beaten and bound at the onset of the incident, survived the attack.

"It freaked me out," said bartender Joanne Ziminski. "When I heard about it I thought it was like that situation in Connecticut. This is scary. It doesn’t happen here."