Important Message from Your Town’s Community Police Officers
Warren Jensen (MCPD Lieutenant) and Mark Drotos (MCPD Detective).
It has been great working with so many of you at the recent September Town hall meeting, as well as personally meeting some residents individually. We thought this would be a good time to send a message regarding recent criminal activity affecting Chevy Chase View residents.
Crime Overview –
There has been a recent increase in vehicle-related crimes and incidents, more specifically stolen vehicles, thefts from autos, and thefts of auto parts throughout the County. This surge has affected Wheaton, Silver Spring, Kensington, and Bethesda. Additionally, we have seen a shift in criminal tactics. Historically, locked vehicles with items stored out of sight were not targeted. This statement is mostly true. Unfortunately, we are now experiencing suspects breaking vehicle windows to search for items that can be stolen. This presents a challenge to your prevention efforts and puts us all at a disadvantage.
Response to Crime –
We are tailoring our hours to attempt to disrupt and deter this criminal activity. We are reviewing each of these incidents and staying current on the local crime trends. MCPD (Montgomery County Police Department) is investigating:
- Thefts from autos utilizing the Patrol Investigations Units (PIU).
- Auto thefts with our major crimes investigators.
- Rebuilding its auto crimes section. I can assure you that we (the town community police officers) and MCPD are both taking this trend seriously. We have been victims of auto theft and completely understand how unnerving it is for someone to violate your privacy, trust, and property like that. There are currently several promising investigations occurring, and we expect that the outcomes will reduce and disrupt these criminal activities, but we still require your assistance. You have heard and read them before, but we would like to put them out as a reminder again.
We have been part of this community for nearly ten years. We value our relationships with the Town’s residents, Council and Manager. We have a personal stake in the reduction of crime and the increase in quality of life. Thank you for your support over the years.
How Can You Help?
Always lock your vehicles. We are aware the tactics have gotten more aggressive, but this still helps tremendously.
Whether the vehicle is parked on the street or near the rear of the house in a driveway, it needs to be locked when it is unattended. This is the most important measure that can be taken to prevent this crime. The criminals that steal from vehicles roam through the neighborhoods and pull up on door handles. They almost always bypass vehicles with locked doors. Once they find a vehicle that is unlocked (which unfortunately is often the case), they rummage through for a few minutes and take loose change, GPS units, laptops, or anything else that is of some value and easy to carry away. They often carry backpacks or bags and do not leave until the bag is full.
Remove or hide valuables from plain sight in your vehicles.
GPS units, laptops, phone chargers, currency, EZ pass transponders, and anything else should be removed or hidden. Never keep keys inside your vehicle. That also applies to keys to other vehicles. The same goes for house keys. Do not let the criminals “window shop”. If the reward is great enough, they may want to break the window to access that item. If the door is locked and they see nothing significant, chances are they will move on.
Report any suspicious activity promptly.
The criminals often spend a good amount of time in the neighborhoods looking for vehicles from which to steal. If someone appears to not belong in your neighborhood and is acting suspiciously (looking into vehicles and trying door handles), and has a bag or backpack, please notify the police. They will send a car out and attempt to locate that individual to assess the situation and take appropriate action. During the hours that we are present in the Town, we would immediately hear of the incident and be able to assist.
Ensure you have sufficient outdoor lighting and consider a home camera system.
Again, these types of criminals are typically non-confrontational and would rather commit their crimes in the darkness. If you can mount external lights on a garage or residence, that will help deter crime. A simple motion sensor light can quickly be worth the expense. There are many brands of motion-activated home monitoring cameras available on the market. We are not in the business of advocating for specific brands, but a quick poll of your neighbors or reading online reviews can easily reveal an adequate camera system.
Consider keeping a key fob for your vehicle in the bedroom.
If you become a theft victim and realize that someone is looking into your vehicle, you can press the panic button and scare off the would-be thief. Please notify the police even if you scare the subject off as they may stay in the neighborhood and look for a new target.
IMPORTANT – Post the incident to the Town Listserv.
Awareness is critical. We strongly encourage residents to share any vandalism or theft incidents on your Town’s listserv. This is neighbor-to-neighbor sharing of important information! This makes neighbors aware of current events, notifies your neighbors to be extra vigilant, and can elicit additional incidents from neighbors. It also helps reveal the full extent of these incidents in your Town (which your Town Manager will continue to share with us) and helps MCPD determine the extent of these issues throughout greater Kensington.