County parking garages are not immune to thefts from vehicles, as some found out two weeks ago in downtown Bethesda:
Three thefts from vehicles were reported between Thursday, 3/21 and Saturday, 3/23 involving vehicles parked in county garages/lots on Wisconsin Avenue, Woodmont Avenue and Arlington Road in Bethesda. Forced entry in one instance; the others were entered without any signs of force. Items taken included a laptop, GPS, clothing, and checks.
The rest of the most recent Bethesda District crime summary is after the jump.
‘One-Man Crime Spree’ Faces 58 Years Behind Bars — Michael Bernard Dorsey, 47, of Silver Spring on Thursday was convicted in the last of five trials that saw him convicted of 20 counts of theft from autos over the last two years in Potomac and Bethesda. [The Washington Post]
Obama Stops By Strathmore For Daughter Sasha’s Recital — Barack Obama stopped in Saturday night at the venue in North Bethesda to see his daughter’s dance recital, according to pool reports. Obama left for the White House about an hour after arriving. [h/t @PoliticoKevin]
Walter Johnson Senior Wins State Swimming Title With Injured Arm — Barry Mangold, a University of Virginia recruit, dislocated his shoulder on Friday, then won the Class 4A/3A state titles in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle on Saturday. Mangold set the state record in the 50-yard event and helped Walter Johnson to its second straight team title. [The Gazette]
Is Chris Van Hollen Destined For House Speaker? — A profile portrays the Maryland Congressman and Kensington resident as a candidate for the House’s highest leadership position if the Democrats take control. [New Republic]
Flickr photo by ehpien
Montgomery County Police Bethesda District commander Capt. Dave Falcinelli yesterday said citizens calling in suspicious behavior in neighborhoods led to four recent arrests of suspects in theft and burglary cases.
One of those arrests came Jan. 18 in the Ashburton neighborhood, off Old Georgetown Road.
Those so-called “nuisance crimes,” theft from autos and residential burglaries that are common in upscale Bethesda neighborhoods, will continue to be the primary challenge for Bethesda police and detectives in the upcoming year, Falcinelli said.
Despite continuing reports of thefts from autos in neighborhoods across the 2nd District, the number of incidents actually declined by 23 percent (1,175 to 902) in 2012 compared to 2011, Falcinelli said. But he also said he expects those numbers to rise this year with the inclusion of Potomac and parts of the Randolph Hills neighborhood in the new 2nd District.
Falcinelli said redistricting has gone smoothly since it went into effect Feb. 4.
When asked about enforcing laws against illegally parked cars on busy Wisconsin Avenue, Falcinelli told the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board his District doesn’t have the manpower to make sweeps of the area. He said his traffic sergeant recently went to businesses along the stretch with letters warning them to stop allowing delivery truck drivers and others to park in the far right lane.
On Tuesday, officers responded to a stolen airbag from a white Acura near the Park Bethesda apartment in the 5300 block of Westbard Ave.
MCP spokeswoman Lucille Baur said police have not confirmed whether it is related to other incidents, one of which occurred in Potomac, now a part of the 2nd Police District headquartered in Bethesda.
AAA has said Acuras are among the most popular targets for airbag theft. Recommendations for preventing airbag theft are very similar to tips for preventing any other type of theft from a vehicle.
Police have repeatedly urged residents to lock their cars, most recently after a surveillance video surfaced in January that showed a car thief rummaging through unlocked cars in a Chevy Chase driveway.
Montgomery County Police spokeswoman Officer Rebecca Innocenti urged residents to lock their cars overnight in order to avoid thefts from vehicles.
Bethesda and Chevy Chase have been hard hit by thefts from vehicles over the past two years.
“The easiest way to prevent theft from vehicles is to lock your vehicle doors,” Innocenti told County Cable Montgomery’s “County Report This Week.”
Innocenti said surveillance video from an incident in Chevy Chase shows a thief opening the doors and looking for items to steal in three unlocked cars.
Video via MyMCMedia
Starting tomorrow, Chevy Chase Village Police officers will go door-to-door on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to deliver a one-page flyer and remind residents to lock their cars.
In 2012, the town of about 2,000 residents and 0.4 square miles was home to 97 thefts from autos, a 40 percent increase compared to 2011. In October, police chief John Fitzgerald won approval for a special police bait car from the Village Board, to the tune of $3,800:
The common denominator to these thefts is the unlocked car parked overnight. I urge each of you to help us eliminate these thefts by doing a few simple things:
- Lock your car every time you park.
- Remove all valuables from your car.
- Leave your front porch light on all night long.
- Call the police whenever you see or hear anything suspicious.
Thefts from autos in 2011 were down 23 percent compared to 2011 for the entire Montgomery County Police Bethesda District, according to numbers released yesterday.
But car thieves remain a threat. There were 901 reported in 2012. A case in an unincorporated section of Chevy Chase over New Year’s Eve got some attention after a resident caught the thief breaking into cars in a driveway with a home security camera.
At least three of those cars were unlocked, police said.
Falcinelli reported a 40 percent drop in residential burglaries (357 in 2011 to 214 in 2012), 17 percent drop in commercial burglaries (103 to 85), 23 percent drop in thefts from autos (1175 to 901) and a 40 percent drop in stolen autos (172 to 102).
“These decreases are especially significant as property crimes are the majority of the crimes that occur here,” Falcinelli wrote. “Just yesterday, residential burglary arrests were made in the Bethesda District because of an alert homeowner that called police after suspecting that a knock at the door was a ruse to see if someone was at home. In this case, the suspects knocked at the front door and then made up a name when the homeowner answered, pretending to be at the wrong house. These suspects ultimately did commit a burglary nearby and were quickly arrested with property still in their possession.”
Crimes against persons increased in 2012, with 57 combined street and commercial robberies compared to 42 in 2011.
Falcinelli, whose 2nd District will now include Potomac and Randolph Hills in North Bethesda, again urged residents to report suspicious persons and vehicles immediately.
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) A Chevy Chase resident recently caught a car thief in the act with video that clearly shows the man’s face and clothing as he cautiously looks inside a Jeep in a driveway.
The video, which has been circulating on the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Community listserv, comes from a neighborhood just east of Connecticut Avenue near Jones Bridge Road, where residents say a string of thefts from cars occurred over the New Year’s holiday.
Montgomery County Police posted the video on their website in an effort to help catch the suspect, who they believe is connected to another incident in the same neighborhood.
On Dec. 30, between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m., the suspect entered a vehicle in the driveway of a home in the 3700 block of Village Park Drive. The suspect didn’t take any items, police said. The owner of the car didn’t remember if the car was locked.
The next night, police think the same man entered three unlocked cars in a driveway in the 8600 block of Village Park Place. The suspect took an electronic device from one of the vehicles, police said.
Police are providing a few options for tipsters to give information on the suspect.
In the 2nd District’s latest available crime statistics, released on Nov. 15, thefts from autos were down 21 percent compared to the first 11 months of 2011.
But the 784 total reported thefts from autos were still a constant on weekly crime summaries. Suspects took iPods, GPS systems and other goods from unlocked and locked cars alike.
Chevy Chase Village, the 0.4-square-mile town with a population of just more than 2,000, was on pace for more thefts from autos in 2012 than it had been in 25 years.
There were a reported 68 thefts from autos in the town by October and it was of enough concern for the Village’s police chief to ask for and be granted a special bait car.
Video via Olafur Gudmundsson