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Police Warn of Friendship Heights Phone Scam

by BethesdaNow.com | November 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | 742 views | 2 Comments

Montgomery County Police say someone is calling mostly elderly residents in Friendship Heights and pretending to be their grandchild to scam them out of money.

Since mid-October, the suspect or suspects have made out with $2,000 by claiming they have been arrested in an accident in Mexico of Canada and need money, police said.

The caller then has told the victims not to tell the “grandchild’s” mother or father, police said.

In two cases, the victim has deposited money in a bank account given by the caller. Police say there have been five of these incidents.

From the press release:

Based on the above incidents, police are reminding all residents to verify the identity of anyone who contacts them via telephone.  Obtain a telephone number from the caller, and tell the caller that you will return his or her call.  Do not provide bank account numbers over the phone, and do not send money to anyone you do not know.  Most importantly, if you feel that you have been the victim of a scam, contact police.  Your report to the police is oftentimes the only way that police know that such incidents are occurring.

Late last month, police say a scam artist dressed in a construction vest and hard hat distracted an elderly Bethesda resident while his partner stole jewelry from her home.

Transportation Summit to Address Funding Hurdles

by BethesdaNow.com | November 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm | 952 views | No Comments

With the state’s transportation money dwindling and the increasing population of Montgomery County causing more congestion, some county lawmakers are pushing for alternatives with a “Regional Transportation Funding Summit” in Annapolis.

Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park, County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) and Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At large) of Silver Spring helped organize and will attend the meeting of state politicians and transportation activists on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Berliner announced the summit yesterday during his weekly Monday press conference.

Berliner is concerned that new high-occupancy HOT lanes on the Virginia section of the Beltway will mean a “choking point” for his constituents traveling across the American Legion Bridge. He, along with colleagues in Fairfax County, have asked the Maryland and Virginia state transportation agencies to consider using the shoulder lane of the Bridge for traffic, at least temporarily.

But according to a study last week from the General Assembly’s Office of Policy Analysis, in five years the state won’t have even enough money to maintain its existing roads and transit.

(more…)

Renderings For New Tallest Building In County

by BethesdaNow.com | November 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm | 3,263 views | 3 Comments

 

North Bethesda Market II will overtake the first phase of the Rockville Pike project as the tallest building in Montgomery County and serve as a focal point of the massive redevelopment effort underway in White Flint.

The new building, with 347 high-priced apartments, will reach almost 300 feet, slightly taller than its 289-foot-tall North Bethesda Market neighbor.

Judging by renderings released this week from Sterling, Va., based ArchiBIM, it will be another striking change to an area around Rockville Pike and Nicholson Lane previously known as strip malls and small office buildings.

Chevy Chase-based developer JBG Cos. is behind the project, which will include 120,000 square feet of retail space and 150,000 square feet of office space. It is slated for completion in 2014. The first building was completed in 2010.

Groundbreaking for North Bethesda Market II was estimated for late this year.

Images via ArchiBIM

Police Chief Discusses Redistricting, Crime Trends

by BethesdaNow.com | November 20, 2012 at 11:50 am | 719 views | No Comments

Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger spoke in Bethesda last night about the county’s downward crime trend, upcoming redistricting and ongoing budget struggles that he said make his department one of the most efficient in the nation.

Manger made a presentation and answered questions at a monthly meeting Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board last night.

Despite the loss of almost 100 officers during a three-year span from 2007-2009 because of county budget cuts, Manger said the numbers show most crimes, excluding robberies in the Bethesda area, are trending downward over the last 10 years.

Robberies and thefts from cars are both up this year compared to this time in 2011, according to Bethesda Police District statistics released last week.

Manger mentioned a particular string of burglaries police believe are related in Potomac, which on Jan. 2 will become part of the Bethesda police district as part of the department’s redistricting effort.

Burglars there appear to be targeting Asian families. Manger said police have seen about half a dozen break-ins in high-end houses occupied by Asians where burglars take primarily jewelry, regardless of whether those homes have alarm systems.

The redistricting effort is meant to better organize the distribution of officers. Manger said the major reason for the reshuffling was the difficulty for officers in the Rockville police district to get out to Poolesville in rural northwestern Montgomery County.

Bethesda District Commander Capt. David Falcinelli, who also attended the meeting, said the Bethesda district shift shouldn’t be too burdensome, as Potomac actually belonged to the Bethesda district before.

Manger showed crime maps that showed what many Bethesda residents have become accustomed to: The county’s high-crime areas are not in Bethesda. Silver Spring, Gaithersburg and Germantown have the most incidents of crime, which Manger said is consistent with the trend of densely populated areas with more poverty that fuels crime.

One of the biggest concerns in Bethesda, besides car break-ins, is pedestrian and car collisions. Manger said those numbers have dropped as well, though he admitted it’s difficult to enforce traffic laws with cyclists, of which there might be an increased number with next year’s introduction of Capital Bikeshare.

Manger also explained his three-year staffing plan, requested by County Executive Isiah Leggett, to recoup the officers he lost during budget cuts.

Last year, the department added 43 full-time officers. Manger is requesting 45 to 50 more for next year’s budget.

Right now, the county has 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents (including officers from municipalities in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Takoma Park and Chevy Chase Village). The national average is 2.5 officers per 1,000 residents.

Little Increase Expected in Maryland Thanksgiving Travel

by BethesdaNow.com | November 20, 2012 at 10:00 am | 521 views | 1 Comment

AAA forecasters say the number of Marylanders expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday is virtually the same as during last year’s holiday period, a reflection of continued caution over spending.

Nearly 883,000 Marylanders, less than a half percent increase from last year, are expected to travel 50 miles or more round trip between tomorrow and Sunday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“This year it appears short-to-moderate distance holiday trips primarily by auto are replacing long-haul trips by air,” said Ragina Averella, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The forecast predicts 61,600 Marylanders will travel to their Thanksgiving destinations by air, an almost two percent decrease from last year. It also predicts 18,000 will take buses, trains or boats, an almost 14 percent bump.

The State Highway Administration is promoting its 511 information system as a way to stay current with any Thanksgiving travel updates.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says part of the reason for the predicted flat travel rate is gas prices, which on average in Maryland are above the national average despite falling from peak prices in September.

Locally, watch for Thanksgiving closures on Wisconsin Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. between Pooks Hill Road and Commerce Lane because of the annual Turkey Chase race.

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | November 20, 2012 at 8:45 am | 425 views | No Comments

Special Thanksgiving Farmers Market Today — Central Farm Markets is having a special Thanksgiving market today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its North Bethesda Mid-Pike Plaza location (11806 Rockville Pike). Fresh food and produce will be available as well as prepared turkey day fare ready for pick-up. [Central Farm Markets]

Bethesda Row Clothing Store Introduces ‘e-commerce showroom’ — Bonobos, the pop-up men’s fashion store on Bethesda Row (7216 Bethesda Lane), is employing a fresh concept for Bethesda shoppers. Customers make appointments to try on clothes they see on the store’s website. [Modern Fellows]

December Exhibit Features Work By Former Local Teacher — Bethesda Urban Partnership’s Gallery B art studio (7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E) will feature works by former Montgomery Blair art teacher and department head Jude Nagel, who died last year. [Bethesda Urban Partnership]

B-CC High School Newspaper Looking For Funding — The Tattler, one of the oldest high school newspapers in the country, needs donations to keep printing. The staff would like to publish bi-weekly and is hosting a fundraiser next week. [Bethesda Patch]

Flickr photo by rczeien

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