November 23, 2001

Recent stories in the Brookdale Bugle and the Chevy Chase
Gazette have highlighted a spate of crimes in our neighborhood.
Two burglaries in August, an attempted rape on Western Avenue
that same month, several more burglaries in September and
October, and an assault are examples of the types of crime that
have recently taken place in Brookdale and nearby neighborhoods.

While police have stepped up late night patrols in our area,
there are efforts that we all can take to reduce these types of
incidents. Dana Matthis, the 2nd District Community Police
Officer and Brookdale's liaison to the Montgomery County Police,
advises that "The key to crime prevention in a neighborhood is
resident communication and networking to address the local
concerns. That means watching out for neighbors, noting
strangers, being alert and in touch with each other. The best
neighbor is a nosey neighbor. Further, you need to pay attention
to making your house as secure as possible."

According to Officer Matthis, we have three types of thieves
working in the area that includes Brookdale, Green Acres-Glen
Cove, Chevy Chase Village, Somerset, and other neighborhoods
between Western Avenue and Wilson Lane, west of Wisconsin Ave.
They are "nighttime burglars", "daytime burglars", and "transient
crime groups".

  • Nighttime burglars generally target elderly women, but occasionally victimize disabled men.
  • Daytime burglars often use the method of soliciting yardwork. When no one is home, they can kick in the door or break a window to enter the house.
  • Transient crime groups work in clusters, noting people working in yards or otherwise occupied, and entering unlocked doors. Sometimes a decoy engages the resident in conversation while a partner enters the home.

Each of these crimes suggests a different type of response. In
all cases, keeping doors and windows locked is essential.
Checking the security of those locks is important.

Be sure to alert your neighbors to services you are anticipating
the following day. When trucks pull up without neighbors being
forewarned, the police should be called. (One lady watched while
thieves disguised as a "moving van crew" removed her neighbor's
furniture, only mildly thinking it was odd she hadn't mentioned
she was moving.)

The Montgomery County Police Department offers a free Home
Security Survey to help you determine and correct likely points
of entry for burglars. As our Community Liaison Officer, Officer
Matthis can help schedule an appointment for your home survey.
Her phone number is 301-657-0119.

Watchfulness cannot be stressed too much. The police recommend
block by block, neighbor by neighbor communication. To initiate
more communication, one suggestion is that Area Liaison
Representatives (block captains) bring folks together to meet
each other, and to think through how you can assist each other in
watching out for your portion of the block.

Some elements in a "watch" program include:

  • Asking those who are out jogging or walking the dog to be particularly observant, watching for anything unusual.
  • Taking down the license plate number of a car that is "out of place" in the neighborhood might be helpful.
  • Varying the daily routine of leaving and returning to your house at the same time makes you less vulnerable to a burglar.
  • If you will be out of town, putting a temporary stop on your newspapers or arranging for a neighbor to pick them up.
  • Knowing the neighbors who are at home during the day. They are our "observers" who can make a great deal of difference by watching what is happening and reporting odd events.
  • Notifying your neighbors any time you are going to be away from home, so that they can be on the alert to what is happening in your house and yard.
  • Storing your valuables in a safety deposit box.

Following up on theses tips can help reduce some of the crime
that Brookdale has been experiencing. Of course, in an emergency,
always call 911. The non-emergency number for the Montgomery
County Police Force is 301-279-8000 (please update this number in
your directory).

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