Half of Mt. Airy car break-ins preventable

There have been an unusually high number of car break-ins in West Mt. Airy over the past month.

According to records from Philadelphia’s 14th Police District, there were 26 incidents reported during a span starting the third week of October and ending Saturday.

Lt. Mark Overwise said nearly half of those crimes could have been avoided if the car owner had taken an extra second to make sure their doors were locked.

“It’s as simple as that,” said Overwise during Tuesday night’s PSA 3 meeting at Germantown Jewish Centre. “You could walk home from here and you’re bound to get one [that’s unlocked].  The rest, he said, were likely the result of someone leaving valuable items in plain sight. He said residents need to be particularly careful with their GPS systems.

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“Even if you stick your GPS to the window and you take it off and that ring is still visible, that’s an indication that you possibly have that in your glove box or stuck under your seat. So they’ll still try to break into the car,” said Overwise.

Compared to the entire district – which covers Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Germantown and most of West Oak Lane – the month’s tally appears reasonable.  In just the past week, there have been 20 break-ins, according to Capt. Joel Dales, who became the 14th’s newest captain in mid-October.  Most of those incidents, he said, could have similarly been avoided.

Overwise said when it comes to car break-ins, it’s extremely difficult to make an arrest unless an officer catches the person during or soon after the crime occurs. Lifting fingerprints from vehicles, he said, isn’t easy.

Dales urged the handful of neighbors in attendance to call the station if they see something suspicious. Eye-witness information helped officers make three arrests connected to break-ins over the weekend.

“By them being good witnesses, we were able to target and find out exactly who they were based on the description that was given to us,” said Dales.

PSA 3 covers the area between Allens Lane and Queen Lane from Germantown Avenue to the boundary of Wayne Avenue / Walnut Lane / the Wissahickon Creek.

See what type of crimes are occuring in your neighborhood: 14th District crime blotter

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