Man snooping behind backyards looking for your goods

Beware of a man with the van who rummages your trashcan.

A Morris Park community patrol is warning local residents that a white van has been cruising their neighborhood, with its occupants not only rifling through their trash for recyclable metal, but also stealing items from their yards.

“They’ve been going into people’s yards and taking personal belongings,” John Pucci, patrol coordinator for the Morris Park Community Association Patrol said at the 49th Precinct Community Council’s May 29th meeting.

The latest incident, he said, happened three weeks ago on the 1800 block of Haight Avenue, on garbage day. A neighbor, wishing to remain anonymous, saw a stranger pilfering in his backyard.

“They stole his barbecue,” said Pucci, upset over the perp’s brazen approach. “I think it’s wrong.”

Pucci, along with members of his patrol unit, would normally see the van creeping around garbage day when neighbors place their trash on the curb in front of their home.

“They’re riding by in their van, they see something, no one’s around and they’ll go and take a baby carriage or bicycle or something else,” said Pucci. Neighbors also reported seeing microwaves and old vacuums taken.

The recent victim was able to jot down the license plate number on the van – FEB6875 and Pucci gave it to precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Nicholson, who said he was unaware of the problem until now.

The incident is similar to one reported by Gabriel Pacino, the MPCA vice president.

He and a friend spotted a red van with Pennsylvania plates earlier this year going from house to house, looking for items.

“I saw him getting out of somebody’s backyard, then he was looking at other people’s homes,” said Pacino. Luckily the suspect walked empty-handed.

Pucci said he understands the business of scrapping, where people look for worn out metals in exchange for money, is now a common money-making trade. But Pacino said he wouldn’t mind scrapping with the scrappers.

“If he comes into my backyard,” Pacino warned, “he’s going to get a baseball bat.”

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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