Montgomery County police are reporting an uptick in thefts from autos in Bethesda and Chevy Chase neighborhoods in recent weeks. Two recent car thefts have also highlighted the need for residents to lock their vehicles, police said.
According to police, 40 incidents involving 45 vehicles have been reported since June 1 in neighborhoods south of River Road between Goldsboro Road and Little Falls Parkway. All the thefts happened overnight, according to the report, and items were stolen from unlocked vehicles.
In the early morning hours of June 11, a homeowner noticed three men wearing black clothing looking into cars with flashlights along Bryn Mawr Avenue, police said. The men fled, possibly in a van. Less than two hours later, two vehicles were reported stolen from the same neighborhood.
In both cases, police said the keys had been left inside the vehicles.
After investigating, police learned of 12 more crimes, including thefts from autos and thefts of bicycles from yards and open garages, in the same neighborhood.
Montgomery County Police Second District Commander Capt. David Falcinelli warned residents not to leave valuables inside their vehicles and to keep their cars locked in a recent blog post.
“These criminals do talk and they tell their friends where the ‘easy’ neighborhoods are located. Our crime then begins to multiply,” Falcinelli wrote. “We will aggressively patrol these areas and hopefully deter some of these criminals from coming back, but you each need to do your part also.”
Thieves tend to target unlocked vehicles, and about 80 percent of thefts from autos happen from unlocked cars, Falcinelli wrote.
“Help us keep crime down to a minimum,” Falcinelli urged. “With your assistance, there will be no insurance paperwork, officers can be more useful rather than spending time taking reports for crimes that are easily prevented, and in the case last night – you won’t be walking or riding the bus to work in the morning since the bad guys used your keys to steal your cars.”
Has your neighborhood seen an increase in thefts from autos? Have you been the victim of a theft from your car? Tell us in the comments.