Police Presence Increases in Somerset
Police presence in the Chevy Chase municipality increased following one burglary and two attempted burglaries last month.
The next time you're strolling through your neighborhood and you see a police officer, stop and say "hi"—and tell the officer what you've seen that could be suspicious.
Reporting suspicious things—people, activities, cars—is one of the best ways to deter crime, Montgomery County Police Capt. David Falcinelli, commander of the county police’s second district, told Town of Somerset residents at the town's council meeting on Monday night.
Police presence in the Town of Somerset recently increased following one successful burglary and two attempted burglaries in the municipality within the past month, Falcinelli said.
Last week, officers patrolled Somerset for 40 hours—up from 10 or 12 hours a week in the past, said Falcinelli and Cpl. Tony Galladora. The increased patrols will continue until further notice, Town Manager Rich Charnovich said.
Patrols are rotated to be random and the officers are in marked cars to encourage Somerset residents to talk to the officers and tell them what they're seeing around the neighborhood, Falcinelli and Galladora added.
"Reporting suspicious situations is huge" in reducing the number of burglaries and attempted burglaries in the neighborhood. Sometimes people don't want to be a bother in reporting something that might or might not be noteworthy, Falcinelli said, but it's important to report everything.
Other precautions include having a home security survey done by county police, lighting the area around one's home and not posting on social media (Twitter and Facebook) about vacation plans—or even about leaving windows open in nice weather. Criminals monitor social media and note things like vacations and open windows, Falcinelli said.
Keeping car doors locked is another helpful crime deterrent. Most of the burglars convicted of crimes in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area are from Prince George's County and Washington, DC, but they keep coming back to Bethesda and Chevy Chase because of the "good stuff" in the cars, many of which are left unlocked, burglars told police, Falcinelli said.
Last month's successful burglary in Somerset took place on Uppingham Street, while the attempted burglaries were on Dorset and Falstone avenues, the town office reported from Montgomery County police reports.
Unfortunately, a home security survey didn't help protect the burgled home on Uppingham Street. Burglars went through the home while its owners were away, and stole things worth tens of thousands of dollars.
"They went through absolutely everything—through every envelope, every drawer, every box," homeowner Alessandra Guedes said.
They took small but expensive things—laptops, jewelry, passports—and then packed it all up in the homeowners' suitcases for easy carting, Guedes added.
The summer months tend to see an increase in burglaries, and 80 percent of the burglars apprehended by second district police are caught when they "mess up down the road," Falcinelli said.
Somerset council members agreed that the increased police presence could help make a difference in the number of burglaries happening in the town, but that a multi-pronged approach to deterring crime would probably be needed. Council members are working to set up a special public safety meeting soon for town residents to talk more with Falcinelli and Galladora.