Officer Janelle Smith, a police spokesperson, said two black males, 18-21-years-old, were seen shoplifting at the Bloomingdales in Wisconsin Place (5300 Western Ave.) a little after 12:45 p.m. on Thursday. They left the store on foot, Smith said.
According to scanner traffic, the suspects had a car waiting but left the vehicle behind when police were called. A store employee called police to report two men stuffing merchandise into bags.
Shoplifting is not a rare occurrence in the high-end mix of shops and department stores in Friendship Heights. The FBI recently arrested two men it says were involved in a smash-and-grab and police chase on April 30 at the Cartier Store on Wisconsin Avenue. A group of men allegedly stole 13 watches worth $131,000.
About 40 minutes after that incident, a man walked into the Gap across Wisconsin Avenue and robbed the store. Police characterized that incident as shoplifting.
A police pursuit down Wisconsin Avenue on Tuesday resulted in a car theft suspect, seemingly boxed in just a block away from the District border, striking a citizen’s vehicle to get through Friendship Heights traffic and into D.C.
Officers pursuing the suspect had to stop the pursuit at the District line, another example of the challenge the Friendship Heights section of Chevy Chase presents to Montgomery County Police pursuing suspects fleeing across Western Avenue.
At about 2:39 p.m., the suspect in the stolen vehicle struck the citizen’s vehicle on southbound Wisconsin Avenue at the intersection with Willard Avenue, Montgomery County Police Officer and spokesperson Janelle Smith said. There were no injuries to the driver of the vehicle that was struck, Smith said.
It’s unclear if Metropolitan Police found the suspect or the exact manner in which the suspect nudged through traffic at the signalized intersection.
At the corner of Willard Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue, the driver of the vehicle that got struck told police how surprised she was when she was hit. An officer could be heard saying the suspect was boxed in before cars in front of it let it go by.
Multiple officers stopped their pursuit at Willard Avenue, where onlookers along the area’s high-end shopping district gathered.
After a smash-and-grab on April 30 at the Cartier jewelry store (5471 Wisconsin Ave.), 2nd District Commander Capt. David Falcinelli explained how Montgomery County Police must carefully weigh the seriousness of the crime against the legality and risk of entering another jurisdiction.
Capt. Paul Starks, a department spokesperson, said after that incident that unless the crime is violent, officers won’t cross into D.C. Fresh pursuits can be risky to officers and bystanders and liability concerns in another jurisdiction come into play.
Montgomery County Police this morning are investigating a possible suicide in the 4500 block of North Park Avenue in Chevy Chase, where officers have closed off the road at Friendship Boulevard and set up a perimeter around the body.
A neighbor, who said he spoke to a resident in the building, said a 92-year-old man jumped from his 14th floor balcony just before 7:30 a.m.
Capt. Jim Daly, a police spokesperson, said detectives from the Department’s Major Crimes Unit are on the scene. Daly said police responded for a possible suicide at 7:29 a.m.
Officers have erected a tarp to block the view of the body from residents. North Park Avenue is closed at the intersection.
Mark Nadel is a Bank of Georgetown customer, so he felt comfortable parking his car in the bank’s parking lot on Sunday before he withdrew some cash from the ATM and stepped into the Whole Foods Market next door for some milk.
When he came out of the Friendship Heights store about 10 minutes later, his car was gone. He called the number on a sign in the lot and Rockville-based towing company Diversified Recovery Towing confirmed the company had towed his car.
One problem: When Nadel went to the bank manager the next day, he was told the bank had no contract with Diversified or any other towing company.
“He told me he didn’t care who parked there when they’re closed on the weekends,” Nadel said. “The bank manager was amazed that this happened.”
The bank manager called the towing company and Diversified agreed to refund Nadel the $168 charge. Nadel said he was told by a maintenance man on-site that Diversified towed cars from the lot without a contract all weekend. He went to the Chevy Chase Village listserv today to advise others who might have been towed.
An employee at Diversified’s office in Rockville said the company would not comment on the story.
Eric Friedman, director of Montgomery County’s Consumer Protection Office, said his office has heard about similar stories at the bank location (5410 Wisconsin Ave.). Friedman’s office has been leading the charge on preventing illegal and aggressive trespass towing.
Situations such as the one Nadel experienced on Sunday are common. Friedman said many complaints involve tows that are technically legal, but consist of a tow truck driver pouncing on a car as soon as a customer leaves the business the spot is reserved for. Often, that customer is in a business next door when his or her car is towed.
But in this case, the tow company didn’t have a contract from the business in question. The bank wasn’t even open.
“To me, it’s no different than if I parked my car on a city street and someone came and towed it away,” said Nadel, who took the Metro up to Rockville to retrieve his car.
“I was really pissed off,” Nadel said. “And I know other cars were towed away.”
Tex-Mex eatery Mi Cocina is set to open Friday in Friendship Heights. Above are photos from a private event on Wednesday night, courtesy of Bethesdan blogger Amy Moore.
The restaurant (5471 Wisconsin Ave.) is the 22nd location of the Texas-based chain, and the first in the Washington area. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
A press release says the restaurant aims to provide a “memorable, friendly Texas experience.”
On Friday at 10:30 a.m., co-owners Bob McNutt, Dick Washburne, Ray Washburne and general manager Max Sagatizado will join local politicians and the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Photos via Amy Moore
It’s the first step in getting permitting and construction approval for the unique project, which Chevy Chase leaders helped fund to provide a green space on the edge of very urban Friendship Heights.
The two-acre property, bordered by Grove Street and Western Avenue, used to have a single-family home. Chevy Chase Village contributed $1.25 million of the $5 million purchase price of the land and half of the cost for demolishing the house ($39,000). The deal is a rare Parks partnership with a municipality.
Last year, Chevy Chase village approved a Concept Plan for the park, which proposed a main pedestrian walkway, woodlawn walkway, picnic plaza, great lawn, natural play area and mix of gardens.
Now the County Planning Board will begin its approval process. The hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Image via Montgomery County Planning Department
In a police chase that crosses into Washington D.C., such as the one that followed the Cartier smash-and-grab on Tuesday, Montgomery County Police must carefully weigh the seriousness of the crime against the legality and risk of entering another jurisdiction.
Some worry that makes areas near the Maryland-D.C. line vulnerable to criminals who know they may not be pursued into the District. The robbery on Chevy Chase’s ritzy stretch of high-end stores, nicknamed the Rodeo Drive of the East Coast, follows the January robbery at the Jimmy Choo store a few doors down.
About 40 minutes after the Cartier robbery, as police interviewed employees and reporters gathered on the sidewalk, a man reportedly shoplifted from the Gap store across the street before fleeing to the Friendship Heights Metro station on the Western Avenue border.
Montgomery County Police’s pursuit of the Cartier suspects ended a little more than two miles into D.C., according to scanner traffic.
After reportedly evading a D.C. police officer in Southeast D.C., the suspects remain at large.
Montgomery County Police spokesperson and Capt. Paul Starks said unless the crime is violent, officers won’t cross into D.C. Fresh pursuits are dangerous and often end in accidents. Liability and risk are concerns.
“We’re going into another jurisdiction. We’re leaving the state of Maryland. You know our butts are hanging out,” Starks said. “We’re not getting involved in that.”
Fast casual bakery, breakfast and sandwich chain Le Pain Quotidien opened its tenth D.C. area location on Monday in Chevy Chase at the Shops at Wisconsin Place.
Following up on its Bethesda Row location (7140 Bethesda Lane) the Belgian-inspired restaurant took over the old Tynan Coffee & Tea space (5310 Western Ave.) with an opening on Monday.
The 1,331-square-foot space seats 34 inside and has space for 38 seats on the patio and includes a communal table of reclaimed wood, the restaurant’s main feature.
Le Pain Quotidien at the Shops at Wisconsin Place will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Photo via Le Pain Quotidien
Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At large) on Monday told a group of Bethesda and Chevy Chase residents it’s unlikely Montgomery County will ever implement rent control and that advocates of the measure sometimes use inaccurate information to make their case.
A Friendship Heights resident and member of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board asked Floreen, of Garrett Park, about renters’ rights.
The issue has been prominent among seniors in Friendship Heights, where residents of the Willard apartments have faced a pair of five percent rent increases since last fall. They are unhappy Montgomery County’s volunteer guideline for a 2.8 percent rent increase last year was disregarded.
“Is there going to be rent control in Montgomery County? I think not,” Floreen said. “The traditional challenge is that to the extent that rents are controlled, the history is disinvestment in those buildings or minimal investment. But after a while, the buildings get worse and worse and the government has to step in. …And that’s expensive and costly to everyone.”
Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At large) who helped institute rent control in Takoma Park, said at a Montgomery County Renters Alliance forum last year in Bethesda that he received no support for a similar measure he proposed a few years ago at the county level. Takoma Park’s rent stabilization limits rent increases to the rate of inflation.
“I did not and have not yet had a single council member come to my door and even say, ‘Can we talk about this?’ I was told it’s dead on arrival,” Elrich said.
Elrich said he was contemplating a modified proposal that would require building owners to submit a request for why they need to increase rents by more than 150 percent of the inflation rate.
Renters now make up roughly 30 percent of Montgomery County’s population, a number that should increase as the county continues its gradual shift toward higher-density, urban-style development.
And while Floreen agreed with renters’ advocates that tenants need more of a voice in the political process, she said the county’s existing regulations protecting against landlord abuse may already be enough.
“There are a bunch of recommendations that the county executive is implementing on tenants’ rights,” Floreen said. “I’m not sure they’re not working.”
Montgomery Parks officials hope to have a revamped Willard Avenue Neighborhood Park finished by this summer, a refreshing development for many who gathered on Thursday night in Friendship Heights at a public meeting.
Parks planners and residents agreed the Park, now 24 years old, isn’t used as much as it could be and suffers from a lack of visibility. Parks had to remove the old playground because it had rotted out. The Park, near the intersection of River Road and Willard Avenue, sits in a flood plain and includes steep slopes and a stream.
Parks presented two options for replacing the playground and providing new exercise equipment along the existing trail. The department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission will also clear out some space along River Road to make the park more visible.
Most residents seemed against the idea of an expanded parking lot that they said would allow the 5.1-acre space draw from a wider area. One man suggested a turf soccer field. A group of teenagers asked about the possibility of a small skate park, perhaps similar to the skatepark at the Woodside Urban Park in Silver Spring.
Park Project Manager Kathy Dearstine said staff would look into that possibility. The small basketball court is slated to remain.
Photo via Montgomery Parks
Montgomery County Police released surveillance images of three suspects they say made off with $10,000 worth of handbags on Wednesday at the Jimmy Choo store in Friendship Heights.
Police were called to the store (5481 Wisconsin Ave.) around noon on Wednesday after store employees said three black male suspects entered and quickly stole the handbags. Police said the suspects spent only 10 to 15 seconds in the store before leaving in a red, four-day sedan waiting outside on Wisconsin Avenue that was being driven by a fourth black male.
Police tonight released stills from surveillance video at a nearby department store they said shows three of the suspects before they snagged the bags at Jimmy Choo.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact detectives from the 2nd District at 301-657-0112 or the MCPD’s non-emergency line at 301-279-8000.
Crime Solvers recently upped its cash reward to $10,000 for tips that lead to an arrest or an indictment for a felony crime.
Photos via MCPD
The holiday season is notorious for increases in robberies and thefts as people stock up on gifts. Montgomery County Police are hoping a list of safety tips will help prevent some of the those crimes.
Last week, the county announced the debut of its “Shop With a Cop,” program. According to the county, police officers in all six police districts will patrol retail areas until Dec. 23 to provide extra security and remind shoppers to drive and walk safely in parking lots.
Retail areas with added patrols include the central business districts of both Bethesda and Friendship Heights.
The holiday safety tips, as provided by police, follow:
- Do not become distracted by your shopping. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Park in well-lighted parking lots and park as close to the mall or store as possible.
- Lock your car doors and keep packages hidden in the trunk or under the seats of your vehicle.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash with you – pay with checks or credit cards when possible.
- Ensure that you are not encumbered with a large number of packages. Try to make trips back to your vehicle to store packages in the trunk as you continue to shop.
- Carry your closed purse as close to your body as possible.
- Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
When out walking:
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
- Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
- Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.
- Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
- Do not flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
- Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
- If you think that someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.
- If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist. Give up your property – do not endanger your life. Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker accurately.
- If your Christmas tree can be seen through a window, do not display presents under the tree where they could be seen.
- Make sure to lock doors and windows.
- If you are going away for the holiday, let a neighbor know that your home will not be occupied and have someone keep an eye on your home. Ask someone to pick up your mail and newspapers.
- Place your lights on timers to give the appearance that someone is at home.
- After the holidays, be sure to break down cardboard boxes from gifts for recycling so that a potential burglar does not know your home has a new computer, TV, video game system, etc.
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.
As part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, local health representatives will be on hand tomorrow at the Friendship Heights Village community center (4433 S. Park Ave., Chevy Chase) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to take unwanted, unused or outdated prescription drugs.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration runs the event, which in April resulted in the collection of a record 276 tons of prescription medication from more than 5,000 sites for proper disposal.
The four DEA Drug Take-Back Days have resulted in a total removal of 1.5 million pounds, or 774 tons, of prescription drugs from circulation.
DEA Administration Michele Leonhart said the agency is still working on a uniform system for prescription drug disposal.
From the event website:
Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution. These events are only made possible through the dedicated work and commitment of our state, federal, local, and tribal partners and DEA thanks each and every one of them for their efforts on behalf of the American people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says prescription drugs have become the primary contributor to the country’s increase in drug overdose rates.
Flickr photo by deathtiny42
The 6th Annual Taste of Friendship Heights is this Saturday, an appetizer of sorts before the Oct. 6 Taste of Bethesda, which will feature food from 55 restaurants in Woodmont Triangle.
The Friendship Heights event will feature restaurants from Chevy Chase and just inside the Washington D.C. border from noon to 5 p.m. at The Village Center (4433 South Park Ave.) in Chevy Chase.
Participating restaurants include Rosa Mexicano, Maggiano’s Little Italy, P.F. Chang’s, The Capital Grille, Potomac Pizza, Frosting A Cupcakery and Indique Heights.
Lia’s and Whole Foods will put on food demos and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School jazz band will perform.
The event will go on rain or shine. Free parking is available behind the Courtyard Marriot and a portion of the proceeds will go toward the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place.
For more information, visit the event website.