Gaithersburg Police Department Community Services Officer Dan Lane and Gaithersburg Police Detective Robert Scire, of the investigations department, came to the Kentlands Clubhouse Aug. 6 to update the community on recent criminal investigations, and to suggest ways to prevent crimes like burglary and theft from autos.
Their message was that crimes of opportunity like theft from vehicles and burglars who enter through open or unlocked garage doors are preventable. Noticing who is around, acknowledging people who pass on the sidewalk, letting strangers know that people in the neighborhood pay attention, and calling the police at 911 or the non-emergency phone number whenever something seems wrong are common sense activities that prevent problems and keep the area safe.
Speaking to about 60 concerned residents, Lane and Scire confirmed that Gaithersburg police are still investigating three recent burglaries, thefts from vehicles, and one act of vandalism—a gang-related tag painted on a fence in the Kentlands community—all of which occurred late on Monday, July 23 or early on July 24. In an update to the
Town Courier Aug. 14, Lane said the investigations are continuing.
Lane and Scire confirmed gang-related graffiti on the fence but said there was no evidence to support that all the events of July 23-24 were gang-related. In a subsequent communication, Lane confirmed that the “SRC” painted on the fence was likely related to the Schuyler Road Crew of Silver Spring, a neighborhood gang.
The officers said that all of the incidents from July 23-24 are being investigated separately.
“I would add that we have no information to indicate that any member of the SRC resides in the Kentlands/Lakelands community. (Further, we have no) information that anyone, to include members of the SRC, has committed any other crime(s) related to this inquiry at this point. … Gang members themselves can be very transient in nature. … There are several possibilities as to how or why the graffiti appeared,” said Lane.
Lane said that in incidents reported to police “in Kentlands, Lakelands and the surrounding communities, there has been nothing to support evidence that incidents are gang-related. … (Gangs) are not coming into the community, causing assaults, robberies, anything like that.
“It’s just the graffiti we found, which we are investigating as vandalism. It verifies that it is part of a gang. Who is the (responsible) individual? That’s what we are trying to figure out. Is that person actually a gang member? Is it an individual who wants to be part of a gang? Or is it somebody who is trying to be a (nuisance)? That’s what we are trying to verify right now.”
The officers emphasized the importance of common sense, and preventive activity to enhance community safety.
“These were crimes of opportunity,” Lane said. “Last night, I was driving around the community between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. There were several garages open. There were several alleys that were dark. There were a number of cars left unlocked with property (visible) inside. These are all things that these people look for.
“That’s why we urge (you) to close the garages, lock the doors, take the stuff (in your car) and hide it under the seat or put it in the trunk. Put motion lights in the alleys.”
Regarding light in the alleys, Beth Brittingham, Kentlands community manager, said the Kentlands Citizens Assembly owns the alleys (mews). She added that the community’s architectural standards require residents to light alley garage doors. According to the architectural standards: “Garage doors opening onto an alley and doors facing a primary frontage other than a street shall have a light fixture that is lit from dusk to dawn.”
Officers urged residents to call the police if they see something disturbing. If it is not an emergency, the non-emergency number is appropriate. “I like ‘suspicious’ calls,” said Lane. “If the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, call us.”
Also, they reminded residents to register bicycles with Montgomery County so that if they are stolen, they can be identified and returned.
Police are interested in video or photos that could aid in solving crimes. If you have a security camera system, please review footage for the late evening and early morning hours of July 23 and 24. Anything of value can be shared through a new system called Axon Citizen. Through the Axon link— https://fs30.formsite.com/GBurgMD/kentlands_garageburglar/index.html —you will be directed to a secure site where you can upload digital recordings and photos.