High number of auto thefts in Second District

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Photo courtesy of Meghan Sorensen.
Photo courtesy of Meghan Sorensen.

By: Elaine Bole

D.C.’s Second District Police Department continues to document a high number of thefts from vehicles, warned Lt Jerome M. Merrill in recent emails to neighborhood listservs.

The Second District covers much of the Northwest quadrant of the District of Columbia. The residential neighborhoods include Chevy Chase, Cleveland Park, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Palisades, and Spring Valley.

“A lot of us have come out to our vehicles to see our windows broken and items rummaged through and removed,” Merrill wrote.

“You think about the fact that you drive in this vehicle every day, carry your children, friends, spouses and personal belongings in a vehicle, and now someone has gone through your personal space. The violation feels real and personal, but the fact is that it happens to dozens and dozens of people on a daily basis.”

“Just remember that awful feeling you get when you see your vehicle or your neighbor’s vehicle violated. Then try to take that extra second to make sure all your valuables (or items that might look valuable) are removed from your vehicle every time you leave your vehicle unattended, even if it’s for a short period of time,” Lt. Merrill continued.

Just two weeks ago, a contractor in the 5100 block of Klingle Street, N.W. said his computer was stolen from his unlocked truck while working at a residential home for no more than fifteen minutes. 

Like many neighbors on that street and other streets that had vehicles rifled through, there was a common denominator to this crime – the vehicle was left unlocked. The contractor said it never occurred to him to lock his truck in this quiet neighborhood during the day. That is just what the thief was counting on.   

After reaching out to neighbors in the Palisades neighborhood in person and then through the Palisades community listserv, a common theme was the high number of cars that had been rifled through when left unlocked. Most said they did not report those incidents to the police because there was no damage.

In the case of the contractor and his stolen computer and paperwork, the computer has not been recovered. But the briefcase was thrown into the woods off of Potomac Avenue NW within hours of it being stolen from the truck. A walker spotted the computer case in the woods and immediately reported it to the police. The contractor was happy to get the case and paperwork returned.

“I had no idea where I was supposed to go next without all the paperwork. I needed a new computer, but the whole day would have been shot without the paperwork,” said the contractor. He also worried about private client information and checks that were in the case. But they were not disturbed and were all returned to him. “I know now to always lock my car and hide any valuables from sight.”