Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Larcenies, burglaries a growing problem in Third District - Gazette

Police say more frequent patrols, locking doors and keeping valuables out of sight will help stem crime

by Robert Dongu | Staff Writer Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Last September, Silver Spring resident Christine Gardner was running late taking her daughter to school when someone made her pause.

Gardner noticed a teenager walking in her neighborhood of Springbrook Manor off New Hampshire Avenue. It seemed odd, she said, because it was a school day and class had started. The boy walked slowly, his head fixated on the ground until he stopped at her neighbor's house.

"He didn't look like he belonged there," Gardner said Friday.

Gardner went around the neighbor's house and spotted the boy again, this time opening the screen door to the front of the house. After seeing him loitering near a side door to the home, she called police.

"I wanted to just keep going," Gardner said. "But if something happened there, I wouldn't forgive myself. … I almost didn't call because I didn't want to [be] just profiling."

Police arrived within minutes and the boy, a Springbrook High School student, was apprehended by police and taken to the school, which is located nearby. Gardner said the boy didn't receive a harsh punishment because she called police too early – the suspect hadn't taken anything when police arrived.

Barry Wides, president of the North White Oak Civic Association, said the association works with police, including Educational Facilities Officer Rodney Barnes, who helped foil the alleged bomb plot of two Springbrook students last month. He said Barnes attends association meetings.

"When we see suspicious incidents we report them," said Wides, who said the police's planned relocation to a site in the White Oak area could help deter crime there.

Gardner said she thinks much of the burglaries and larcenies in the area are from teenagers since the crimes tend to be unorganized in nature. While Gardner commended the police and said they're not to blame for crimes in her neighborhood, she said some teens know they'll be disciplined less harshly than adults who commit the same crime.

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