Alleged youth burglar has a Germantown block on alert

Will the young burglar of West Price Street return for a third mission on Wednesday?

It’s one of those crimes that would be written off as a run-of-the-mill police-blotter item if it wasn’t for surveillance footage. The past two Wednesdays, however, a security camera mounted on a home on the 100 block of W. Price St. in Germantown offered some evidence.

That’s when neighbors say an unidentified teenager made his way up and down the block, allegedly casing it for homes to burglarize by checking for open doors and windows.

Eye in the sky

On Feb. 15, someone allegedly broke into Fred Capp’s house without leaving a sign of forced entry behind. Reported stolen were five watches, two BlackBerries, a computer and two digital cameras.

Fast forward to Feb. 22, around the same time of day, which just happens to be when children are dismissed from school, and neighbors say the same youth was back.

This time, however, he was carrying a brick from a home undergoing renovations and testing doors on various properties.

Caught by the camera was a woman from across the street alerting Capp’s neighbor Jonathan Kasmire that the alleged burglar was back in action. Shortly thereafter, Kasmire, who said his own back door was tested for accessibility, can be seen approaching and talking to the youth.

“He told me he’d tell me where the stuff was if I let him go,” Kasmire recounted a few days later.

Unfortunately for the youth, police had already been called. When told this, the youth ran away from Kasmire, but the police arrived in time to capture him.

Not the end of the story

As the youth sat in the back of a cruiser, Dia L. Jones, vice principal from the nearby Mastery Charter School, responded to the scene.

Neighbors claim she told them the youth was a former student who’d since been sent to a nearby “success school” for behavioral issues.

However, Mastery Director Leslie Hall would not comment on the neighbor’s account or the teen’s identity. She said, however, that Jones did speak with police and the school “will do to make sure our students and the community are safe.”

A heated scene

One resident, Tim Smigelski, said the East Germantown youth’s father was called while about 12 neighbors gathered outside speaking to the responding officers.

“They told us we should have let him break in before we grabbed him,” Smigelski recounted.

There was no break-in that day, just a kid with a brick who looked like someone who might have broken in to a home the previous week. Police public-affairs records note of just one reported burglary on that block this year. That, coupled with a he-said he-said account of crime admission since the alleged burglar denied making those comments to Kasmire, led to no arrest being made.

“Police released him around the corner,” Smigelski said last week. “This is maddening and frustrating. I, like many others on our block, are concerned and feel helpless that the law can’t, and won’t, do anything to stem this activity. There must be a protocol that authorities can follow when we know we have the right suspect.”

Police in the 14th District offered some answers about protocol on Tuesday by confirming they are working the case.

“It is an active investigation,” said Lt. Michael Whaley. “Detectives will be setting up interviews with the individual, his parents and the resident to get a formal record for the case.”

All of which is to say that a Wednesday threepeat seems highly unlikely.

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