Chevy Chase is an easy target for criminals.
“It’s easy for us to come here and make a couple hundred bucks, that’s what they tell us,” said Capt. David Falcinelli, commander of the 2nd District station of the Montgomery County Police Department, at a Chevy Chase Town Council meeting Dec. 15.
After a spate of burglaries and thefts from vehicles, Falcinelli urged residents to lock doors and windows, know their neighbors and neighbor’s vehicles, and report suspicious activity to county police. He said burglars are not stupid and look for clues that a homeowner is out of town, like lights on during the day and newspapers piled up.
“Those are the ones I think we need to work on,” he said.
Since Sept. 16, there have been more than 20 attempted or successful thefts from houses or vehicles in Chevy Chase, according to the town’s website. Of those, at least two were from unlocked houses or vehicles.
In response to inquiries from residents, Mayor David Lublin asked whether it would be useful to install a camera system that would monitor entrances to the town.
Falcinelli said cameras covering every access point would be useful during an investigation, but cautioned they would be expensive. He noted that some criminals have walked into the community and then stolen vehicles.
“I’ve never heard of it used and I’m not sure it’s a good solution to what you’re facing,” he said.
He said cameras on private property must be high-end to capture images in sufficient detail to aid an investigation. Although security alarms are a deterrent, due to the high number of false alarms, they are generally a low priority for county police. He also requested that residents report crimes or suspicious activity quickly.
“Lights are a great deterrent,” he said. “Make your house less accessible than your neighbor’s.”
County police offer the following advice to keep your property safe:
—Park vehicles in well lit, populated areas, and hide change, electronic devices, and adapters in the trunk.
—Record serial numbers of equipment installed in your vehicles. It will help police recover and identify your property.
—Do not hide a key on your vehicle.
—Install an anti-theft device with a visible indicator, a flashing light or alarm sticker may be enough to deter a potential thief.
—Install deadbolts on all exterior doors, including garages.
—Always lock first floor windows.
—Trim trees and hedges.
—Never leave a key under the door mat, in the mailbox, or above the door.
If your house has been broken into:
1. Touch as little as possible.
2. Try to figure out what was stolen.
3. Call Montgomery County police at 301-279-8000; the report may be taken over the phone.
4. Await the officer’s arrival or the phone call.
What to tell police when reporting something suspicious:
1. Description of person: Age, race, sex, height, weight and clothing.
2. Description of vehicle: License number, make, model, color, any noticeable damage, direction of travel.
3. What occurred: A detailed account of the incident.
4. Where incident occurred: Specific street numbers if possible.
The Montgomery County Police Department offers free home security surveys. Contact Officer Dana Stroman at 301-657-0119 or 240-876-1277. Stroman will provide crime prevention recommendations on securing your home based on crime patterns and/or trends.
Source: 2nd District Station, Montgomery County Police Department