Local law enforcement warns about car thefts

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Police want drivers to be extra careful when filling up the gas tank, especially in one local area.

“Keep your windows up, don’t leave valuables in the car, don’t leave your car running even if it’s just for a second. That’s all it takes,” says D.C. police Fourth District Cmdr. Kimberly Missouri, who mentions that there’s been a problem lately with both car thefts and thefts of items from inside cars.

Missouri says people being aware of their surroundings can help prevent the crimes.

“No one ever says, ‘I saw the robbers coming, I saw them a block away, I saw them coming.’ They always say, ‘They just pounced upon me, I didn’t get a chance to really see them.'”

Right across the District line, Lt. Liz Hattenburg is a deputy commander for Montgomery County Police in Silver Spring.

Hattenburg says in the last six-month period she’s seen six car thefts, compared to three thefts during the same time the year before. Most other crimes are either down or the same.

“A lot of our issues in stolen vehicles are people filling up the gas tank. They don’t want to turn their car off (because) it’s nice and warm. Well, unfortunately, we’ve had some people standing there waiting, and as soon as you get out of your car to go pay the cashier they hop in and go with a nice warm full tank of gas and your car,” Hattenberg says.

“Please, take the 30 seconds, turn your car off, lock it. It’ll make it harder for them to steal items from your car including your purse,” she adds. “We women are horrible with this, we leave our purse on the passenger seat.”

Hattenburg says there was recently a rash of purse thefts from cars in the Takoma Park area, and police found a ring in Prince George’s County where the stolen credit cards and IDs were being taken.

Both Hattenberg and Missouri spoke at a joint community meeting Monday night at Shepherd Park Elementary School in Northwest D.C.

The meeting was organized by D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser and Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin.

Follow @mbaschWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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