Thanks to all residents who attended the security meeting on Saturday. It was a very informative meeting, so there is a lot to report to the community. Please save this report, since it is very difficult to remember everything that discussed at the meeting. Thanks to Brindisi Chan, Nancy Stakem, and Sean Beaver, security committee members, for an excellent report. A special thanks to Commander Kara Lloyd and her staff for increasing patrols in Montpelier and for arranging for Lt. Stanley to speak to us.
MCA President Bob Derrick opened the meeting at 12:40pm on June 25, 2016 at the pool. There was an excellent turnout of over 75 residents.
Richard Mason (Chair of the Security Committee), introduced Brindisi Chan (Deputy Chair), Sean Beaver and Nancy Stakem, Senior Advisers to the Committee. Richard stressed that EVERYONE is part of the Security Committee. We need to work together to keep our community safe. He then introduced our PGPD representatives: Lt. Jim Stanley, Sgt. Monroe and Sgt. Hamm, (who lives in Montpelier).
Regarding the June 20, 2016 home invasion robbery on Cedarbrook:
Since the resident was confronted and injured, this is a home invasion, a more serious crime than a Breaking and Entering (B&E). It will be handled by the PGPD Robbery Unit, different than the unit handling the other B&E’s:
SUSPECT: Black male, short hair, 5’9″ in height, 190 pounds, armed with a screwdriver or leveraging device. Person is suspected in multiple crimes in the south Laurel area.
VEHICLE: Hyundai sedan, burgundy or brown, MD War of 1812 plate on the back, no front plate.
This may be the same vehicle suspected in a January incident here in Montpelier. Currently, there are undercover officers in unmarked cars working in our neighborhood. The victim identified herself and was commended for her bravery.
Lt. Stanley said in order to reduce and prevent crime, we must call 911 when we see or hear something. The more police cars the criminals see, the less they will target our community. Please do not email until after you have called 911.
911 operators are trained in proper questioning. You may ask to remain anonymous or not have the police come to your house if you fear retaliation. Although 911 centers do have Caller ID, they do not automatically pass your information along to the responding officer(s) unless you request an officer to contact you, or agree to be contacted in the event they need additional assistance confirming a suspect. When you call, please be precise and specific with details. If you don’t know, don’t guess. Say you don’t know. The non-emergency number (301-352-1200) is for reporting past events and suspicious activity where there is no one left to question. Suspicious solicitors can always be reported to 911.
Lt. Stanley paused and asked the audience if they had noticed a person hand him a business card a few minutes earlier, and if they could describe the person. A variety of responses were given from the audience with only a small number of them being close or correct. Lt. Stanley then brought up Sgt. Hamm and identified him as the person who handed him the card and pointed out a few of the discrepancies while also explaining that it is not necessary to be exact.
Please don’t call the county council offices for police matters. Their staff is not trained to take police reports.
Calls are prioritized, therefore violent crimes are serviced ahead of non-violent crimes, suspicious person or vehicles. PGPD is not fully funded and District VI is currently short-staffed (you may call the county council about that).
In addition to the previously published comments about suspicious people, Sgt. Hamm said to use common sense when something doesn’t look right. Consider the time and circumstances for suspicious activity. Most B&E’s happen during the school year, during the day by truants who steal electronic items.
For example, Sgt. Hamm was suspicious of two young people with backpacks at 11:00am on a school day. When he confronted them as a PGPD cop, he found they had stolen guns in the backpacks. As a citizen, please do not confront any suspicious individuals; call 911.
Although they can happen at any time, most break-ins occur during midday when no cars are in the driveway and there is little activity in the neighborhood. Locally, Fridays and Mondays are popular days for B&E’s. Prime B&E times are between 11:00am-1:00pm.
– Lt Stanley said he has never investigated a B&E where a dog lived.
– Security systems are a great deterrent but have an inherent delay. They limit the time the criminal has in your home. Thieves will run through quickly to grab what they can, but not stick around for the police to catch them.
– Record the serial numbers of your appliances, electronics, and expensive items, and/or etch the last 4 digits of your SSN. That can prove your ownership if it is recovered.
– When you buy a new large item, please cut the box down and put it in recycling. Don’t put whole boxes out.
– Rosebushes or other prickly plants near windows are also a good idea.
– Request a free home security survey by Cpl. Woody or another COPS officer. Call the District VI station in Beltsville to schedule: 301-937-0910.
– If you use a gun, you are held to the same standard as a police officer. You can’t shoot someone in the back. You can shoot in self-defense with probable cause.
– Don’t leave items like heavy tools out that can be used to break the back doors or windows.
– Get to know your neighbors, including their kids and their vehicles and schedules. A nosy neighbor is a good neighbor.
– Lt Stanley suggested we start Neighborhood Watch. In the past, the MCA had not been successful in getting trained volunteers, but will look into forming a new group.
COMMENTS from residents:
– Please call 911 if a child or minor reports harassment.
– Ensure your children know how to call 911 or know to ask an adult to call if needed.
– Say hello and make eye contact with walkers.
– Change your routine if you can, in case you’re being watched.
– Lock your cars, doors and windows.
– Put a good lock on your shed. You may also purchase door alarms to place on shed doors.
– Automatic lights may also deter thieves.
– Get a good alarm and use it. An original owner noted that the break-ins are not a new phenomenon.
– Consult with a locksmith.
– Cameras can be a deterrent and great resource if they record clearly from all cameras. There are cameras now that upload wirelessly and alert you on your mobile phone.
From the Security Committee:
– Join either the Yahoo listserv or Nextdoor. In Nextdoor, you can set up your profile for emergency notification to your cell phone. Share group emails with your non-computer neighbors.
– The security committee will have more information coming about security systems.
– Read the security committee emails and save the important ones.
– Consider attending Citizens Police Academy: 12 week course, Monday evenings for 3 hours. Very educational and worthwhile. Get your application in early, spots are limited.
– Nancy learned at police academy not to post pictures of your expensive purchases on social media.
– Keep your garage doors closed. For many electric garage door openers, you can get a small transmitter to tuck in your pocket while you do yard work.
– If you are interested in taking a tour of the PGPD Emergency Communications Center, please contact Richard Mason, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montpelier Security Committee,
Brindisi Chan, Deputy Chairperson
Nancy Stakem, Senior Advisor
Sean Beaver, Senior Advisor