May Crime Report: Tips for Securing Your Home

PSA 202 Map

Overall property crime is up in AU Park, Friendship Heights, and Tenleytown (otherwise known as Police Service Area 202) this month, increasing 71 percent compared to April. The rise is driven mostly by car break-ins in residential areas and retail thefts in the Wisconsin Avenue commercial corridor, according to MPD Second District Commander Melvin Gresham. Commander Gresham briefed members of the Second District Citizens Advisory Council on crime trends across the district at the CAC’s May meeting.

When compared to the same time period in 2014, often a better indicator of crime trends, property crime actually dropped slightly in PSA 202, down 5 percent overall. Car break-ins, however, rose with 21 incidents in May 2015 versus 15 in May 2014.

Violent crimes, which include homicides, sexual and other assaults, and robberies, remain low, with only one crime – a robbery – reported in May.

Year to date, violent and property crimes are down 13 percent in PSA 202 compared to 2014.

While burglaries are relatively uncommon in our area – there have been eight this calendar year – the approaching summer vacation season can make homes more vulnerable. During the May CAC meeting, members of the police department shared the following tips to help residents keep their homes secure while they are away: 

  • Arrange for mail and newspaper service to be suspended or for a neighbor or house sitter to collect your mail, paper, and packages for you. Piles of newspapers and a full mailbox are signals to would be burglars that your home is empty.
  • If you will be away for an extended period, arrange to have your grass cut while you are gone. An untended lawn is also a sign that homeowners are away.
  • Install timers for your exterior and interior lights. While this might sound daunting, there are many timers that are easy to install and either plug into an existing outlet or fit over a current light switch. Of course, there are higher tech options, as well, that require wiring or new switches. A local hardware store, like ACE Hardware in Tenleytown, can guide you toward an option that might work best for your needs and skills.
  • If you have Neighborhood Watch on your block, let your block captain know that you will be away and leave contact information with him or her. Don’t know if there is a Neighborhood Watch? Contact Samantha Nolan, Citywide Neighborhood Watch Trainer, at nolantutor@yahoo.com and she can provide information on your street.
  • Contact your PSA lieutenant to let him know that you will be away and how long you will be gone. He can arrange for an officer to drive by your home while you are on vacation to keep an eye on the property and let you know all is well. Lieutenant Alan Hill is in charge of PSA 202, which includes AU Park, Friendship Heights, and Tenleytown. He can be reached at alan.hill@dc.gov.
  • If you have an alarm system, make sure it is armed before you leave. While having an alarm may not prevent a criminal from breaking into your home, it will shorten the time he spends inside and alert your neighbors.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to lock your doors and windows. It may sound like simple advice, but in several recent burglaries in the Second District, homeowners left their doors unlocked.
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