Po­lice give warn­ing for valu­ables in cars

Bowser: Items left vis­i­ble on seats tempt­ing to thieves

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY JA­SON TIDD

D.C. of­fi­cials are em­ploy­ing a new tac­tic to help pre­vent theft from ve­hi­cles: fake tick­ets.

Metropoli­tan Po­lice will place warn­ings that look like pink park­ing ci­ta­tions on cars, vans and trucks to ed­u­cate mo­torists about the po­ten­tial for so-called “smash and grab” theft.

“[Po­lice of­fi­cers] will just walk down the street, they’ll peek in ve­hi­cles — like a wouldbe crim­i­nal might do — and see if we have any valu­ables in that car,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said Mon­day dur­ing a po­lice demon­stra­tion and press con­fer­ence. “We’ll leave a friendly re­minder. It looks like a ticket, but it’s not. And it will say to the res­i­dent, ‘Lis­ten, this was the po­lice this time, and we no­ticed some valu­ables in your car. It could be a would-be thief the next time.’”

Miss Bowser and of­fi­cers of the 4th Po­lice Dis­trict walked through the 600 block of Emer­son Street NW on Mon­day, leav­ing the warn­ings un­der wind­shield wipers on ve­hi­cles that had valu­ables in plain view or open win­dows.

Cmdr. Wil Man­la­paz of the 4th Dis­trict said the warn­ings have been used oc­ca­sion­ally in the past.

The warn­ings read: “WARN­ING! No­tice of In­frac­tion. This is not an ac­tual ticket, but hope­fully it got your at­ten­tion. The Metropoli­tan Po­lice De­part­ment is ‘tick­et­ing’ ve­hi­cles and homes in your neigh­bor­hood to try to raise aware­ness and to re­duce the num­ber of crimes of op­por­tu­nity in this com­mu­nity. Please see the re­verse side for tips and in­for­ma­tion on how to avoid be­com­ing a vic­tim of crime.”

The warn­ings come as part of a po­lice cam­paign against prop­erty crime, which has fallen at a slower rate than vi­o­lent crime.

Ac­cord­ing to Metropoli­tan Po­lice sta­tis­tics, vi­o­lent crime in the Dis­trict has de­clined 27 per­cent com­pared to this time last year, but prop­erty crime has fallen only 2 per­cent.

“While we are al­ways vig­i­lant about vi­o­lent crime, we know that we still have a lot of work to do in re­duc­ing prop­erty crime in the Dis­trict of Columbia,” Miss Bowser said.

Cmdr. Man­la­paz said his 4th Dis­trict won the de­part­ment’s crime-re­duc­tion award last year be­cause of its drop in vi­o­lent crime, not­ing that prop­erty crime is fall­ing as pre­cip­i­tously.

The 4th Dis­trict had seen 339 vi­o­lent crimes by this time last year, but has had only 246 this year — a 27 per­cent de­cline. Prop­erty crime fig­ures, how­ever, re­main rel­a­tively un­changed, with 1,645 crimes last year and 1,643 so far this year.

“The one thing that’s driv­ing our crime now is go­ing to be those thefts and thefts from au­tos,” Cmdr. Man­la­paz said.

Thefts from au­tos across the Dis­trict are down 8 per­cent com­pared to this time last year, from 5,305 to 4,893. They also are down 9 per­cent in the 4th Dis­trict, from 756 to 691.

Cmdr. Man­la­paz said peo­ple should not leave any­thing in their cars, es­pe­cially where would-be thieves can see them, and should lock doors and roll up win­dows.

“Don’t leave any­thing in your car, even if it’s some­thing that you don’t be­lieve is valu­able,” he said. “If it’s a bag, most of those peo­ple don’t know what’s in that bag, and they’re still go­ing to try to steal it.”

He said to be vig­i­lant when go­ing shop­ping or into a gas sta­tion.

“Even if you run in real quick, it only takes a few sec­onds to grab what­ever’s in your car and take it,” the po­lice com­man­der said.

He said to call 911 if some­body is act­ing sus­pi­ciously by look­ing into cars or pulling on door han­dles while walk­ing down the street.

PHO­TOS BY JA­SON TIDD / THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

Metropoli­tan Po­lice Cmdr. Wil Man­la­paz of the 4th Po­lice Dis­trict said vi­o­lent crime in his dis­trict is down, but theft and thefts from au­tos is “driv­ing our crime now.” Cmdr. Man­la­paz joined Mayor Muriel Bowser at a “smash and grab” pre­ven­tion event in North­west Mon­day.

Ms. Bowser pointed out that valu­ables left vis­i­ble in a parked car could tempt would-be thieves, and warned mo­torists to be more con­sci­en­tious about leav­ing their items vis­i­ble.

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