After string of vehicle thefts, police urge residents to lock their cars

Three drivers, two in stolen vehicles, led Southold police on an early morning pursuit from Peconic to Sunrise Highway in Eastport late last week.

Officers were called to Indian Neck Lane in Peconic around 5 a.m. last Thursday after two vehicles were reported stolen. 

The officers observed three vehicles — a stolen 2016 Land Rover and stolen Ford Expedition as well as a third red SUV — accelerate “at a high rate of speed” onto Main Road. Two police sergeants and an officer initiated a pursuit westbound on Route 25 into Riverhead Town.

While turning southbound on Route 105, an officer found the Land Rover was involved in a single-vehicle crash along the shoulder and was left running with no occupants.

Officers continued to pursue the Ford Expedition onto Route 104 and westbound on Sunrise Highway until Exit 62, where the driver of the Ford abandoned the vehicle, fled the area and was possibly picked up by the driver of the red SUV.

Riverhead Town police, New York State troopers and a Suffolk County Sheriff K-9 unit responded and were unable to locate any suspects. The Land Rover was photographed and towed to police headquarters in Southold. The Expedition was found to be undamaged and returned to the owner, a 51-year-old Peconic man.

The spree of stolen vehicles comes as the department continues to investigate a string of car break-ins throughout the town.

Police Chief Martin Flatley said Monday morning that in addition to the two stolen vehicles, there have been 21 reports of larcenies from vehicles made in the last week.

According to police reports, the break-ins began last Tuesday night, when multiple vehicles were targeted between Mattituck and Cutchogue. Loose change, cash, wallets, a laptop and other valuables were reported stolen from the vehicles, which were reportedly left unlocked in driveways.

The thieves made off with hundreds in cash, credit and debit cards — several of which were found to be used in Nassau County late last week, including at a Walmart and Best Buy in Valley Stream, Auntie Anne’s and Forever 12 in Garden City and Home Depot stores in Valley Stream and South Ozone Park in Queens.

One stolen wallet belonging to a 42-year-old Peconic woman was recovered within one of the abandoned stolen vehicles, police said. The woman was advised to close all of her accounts to be safe.

“What’s frustrating is that in all of these cases, the vehicles were unlocked with valuables left inside,” Chief Flatley said Monday.

The department is warning residents to be vigilant about locking their cars and removing all valuables, including their key ignition fobs, especially overnight.

The police chief said he believes the incidents are related due to the locations of the residents that were affected and confirmed Monday that no arrests have been made, though the investigation remains ongoing.

“Our detective division has been working very hard tracking some of the proceeds from these larcenies and developing solid leads,” Chief Flatley said.

“We continue to work with our local partner agencies that have also been affected toward identifying suspects.”