A next-door neighbor got home early from work and noticed two strangers ringing the doorbell. He went into his house, heard some noises and observed the intruders trying to force open the back door with a crowbar.
He attempted to chase down the thugs, and his yells of “Get him! Get the plate!” caught the attention of a young male neighbor, who ran up to the getaway vehicle, a light blue minivan with an Illinois license plate, which was parked several hundred yards up the block at 60th Drive and Mount Olivet Crescent.
“They skidded out around the corner with a screech and I knew they were already gone,” said the young man, “so I focused on the plate only, repeating the numbers over and over to myself.”
It turns out several of the middle digits were incorrect, but his description helped police quickly track down the speeding vehicle, which crashed into several parked cars on the other side of the cemetery, on a residential stretch of 69th Street and Caldwell Avenue. The suspects took off on foot and a frantic pursuit followed, with helicopters searching from above. As of press time, the suspects had not been caught.
According to a police source, the getaway vehicle, which was taken into custody after being abandoned, matches the description of a vehicle that was used in another Queens burglary.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” said the owner of the house, who was not home at the time of the incident. “I feel blessed by the good neighbors I have.” She added, "They didn’t seem too bright; the next-door neighbor walks by and you’re still going to rob that house?”
A surveillance camera from one of the houses on the same side of the street caught the suspects on video. The two men are in their 20s and appear to be Hispanic. Both wore jeans and one had a baseball cap. Witnesses describe them to be about 5’11 or 6’0 tall. Another man is observed on the tape, and though it is unclear whether he is part of the robbery, he is walking up and down the block looking suspiciously into driveways.
“We know who belongs and who doesn’t, even if you’re having company,” said a neighbor who was sitting on her porch at the time of the attempted break-in and called police. “If there’s someone sitting in a car too long, we’re watching.”
The owner of the house pointed out that her house is at the end of a long residential block with no side streets, intersected by a cemetery.
“There are no stores; there’s nothing,” she said. “If you don’t live here and you’re not visiting, you have no business being here.”