Property crimes in the 14th drop thanks to new strategies, cold weather

With new leadership, new tactics, and some mitigation from the winter months, property crimes in sections of the 14th Police District are at a record low.

As explained by Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum of the 14th District this week, his primary area of responsibility – Police Service Area Three, which serves West Mt. Airy and sections of Germantown – is traditionally known for two types of property crimes: burglaries and theft from vehicles.

Rosenbaum, who took the helm of PSA-3 in December, said that at the time of his arrival it was not uncommon for this section of the 14th District to experience burglaries in the double-digits and an average of 30 to 40 thefts from vehicles a month.

On Tuesday night, Rosenbaum noted that from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, PSA-3 experienced 17 burglaries and 22 thefts from vehicles.

From Jan.15 to Feb. 20, there were eight burglaries and four thefts from vehicles, with two of the thefts resulting in immediate or pending arrests.

Explaining possible reasons for the drop, Rosenbaum said that his some of his officers are working in plainclothes while others are keeping a close eye on local fencing operations. In addition, Rosenbaum – an expert in burglary prevention – trained dozens of cops across the Northwest Police Division to investigate and track stolen property.

Even with these measures, Rosenbaum reminded those in attendance that residents and visitors must remain vigilant, as the majority of thefts from vehicles happen when cars are left unlocked.

Crime hotspots

While property crimes have been greatly reduced and the number of robberies aren’t increasing significantly – seven from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 and eight from Jan. 15 to Feb. 20 – reports of vandalism and graffiti are keeping local police on the lookout.

From Nov. 1 to Feb. 20, there were 57 reported incidents of vandalism in PSA-3, with 27 occurring between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. 40 percent the acts happened in a so-called “hotspot” area from Wissahickon Avenue to Emlen Street and Carpenter Lane to Upsal Street.

The 700 block of Westview Street earned the dubious privilege of being the single block with the most episodes, with four occurring during this time period, three of which were at a single address.

Rosenbaum said that in the majority of these circumstances a rock was used to break a front door or window, and that the overnight hours of Tuesday, Friday and Saturday are the prime times for such crimes.

While police will continue to monitor the hotspots, Rosenbaum emphasized that residents should not hesitate to call 911 to report even seemingly minor incidents.

“When you see something that doesn’t feel right,” he said, “let us come out and figure it out.”

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