In recent weeks, crimes stats have crept upward in West Mt. Airy and sections of Germantown, but local police say they are confident that they have everything under control.
In the period running from May 20 to June 18, 14th District Police reported that nine robberies, nine aggravated assaults, two burglaries, and nine theft-from-vehicles took place. In the month proceeding this period, there were five robberies, two aggravated assaults, two burglaries, four thefts from auto, and nine vandalisms.
Confronted with what amounts to a 350-percent increase in aggravated assaults, Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum admitted being taken aback.
“I almost fell out of my chair,” he recalled, but further inquiry revealed that a wave of violent crime is not about to overtake Police Service Area Three (PSA-3), which he oversees.
Of the nine total aggravated assaults, four were domestic in nature, which Rosenbaum noted police are not able to prevent, per se. Two occurred at Lingelbach Elementary School, and two more were street fights that resulted in significant injuries. In almost every incident, the perpetrator was known to the victim.
“These aren’t random acts of violence,” he noted.
While theft from autos crept up over the two months, Rosenbaum cited an overall decrease from a time where 30 such thefts were not uncommon. Asked if there were any patterns to the thefts, he said that the majority of thefts were in the vicinity of Wayne and Germantown Avenues, with many occurring during the daylight hours.
He suggested that many commuters using SEPTA regional rail and parking on nearby streets are becoming the targets of thieves. He estimated that 60-percent were valuables – wallets, phones, and electronics – left in plain sight.
Asked by residents what he attributed this decrease, he suggested that stepped up enforcement – primarily through the increased deployment of police to PSA-3 – could be responsible.
Of the two burglaries, one was a likely dispute between landlord and tenants. The other was more vexing, occurring overnight on the 500 block of West Mt. Airy Avenue while the residents were home. Two laptops and a 2012 Ford Fusion were taken. No signs of forced entry were noted.
Rosenbaum reminded those present to lock all doors and keep valuables – and car keys – out of sight.
Tips to keep your belongings safe
To further discourage burglars, Rosenbaum is circulating a flyer of burglary prevention tips culled from his days in the detective division. Many of the suggestions can be considered common sense, but with the prevalence of social media, Rosenbaum again reminded residents not to announce vacation plans on Twitter and Facebook.
Secure windows, doors, and locks are also highly recommended by police. Local law enforcement lore recalls a recent situation where the possessions of a prominent local broadcaster were saved because a top-of-the-line security door prevented a would-be intruder from entering his home.
While unsure whether the low burglary statistics will endure through the summer months, Rosenbaum emphasized that curfew enforcement will continue unabated. From time to time, special operations designed to watch over popular locations at local parks will also be conducted.
And, referencing recent shootings in other parts of the city that began as robberies, Rosenbaum reminded residents never to argue with an armed assailant – especially over a cellphone.
“Don’t fight them – give it up,” he said. “It’s not worth your life.”