by Sue Ann Rybak

Residents voiced their concerns about the lack of police presence in Chestnut Hill at a Chestnut Hill Police Sector Area meeting (PSA 4) held on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Water Tower Recreation Center located at Ardleigh Street and East Hartwell Lane.

Sgt. Daniel Ayres presided over the meeting, which was attended by five residents.

Ayres summarized the crimes for the month of February in PSA 4, which consists of Chestnut Hill and parts of Mt. Airy. There were four thefts from vehicles, two burglaries and six vehicles reported stolen. One assault occurred at Franklin S. Edmonds Elementary School. One robbery occurred in Wadsworth. No other details were available at that time.

One attendee, who didn’t want to be identified, voiced concerns about cars being broken into on East Abington Avenue between Germantown Avenue and Arleigh Street. On Feb. 16, her neighbor discovered that someone had broken the back window of his station wagon.

“It doesn’t make the quality of life any better,” the Chestnut Hill resident said. “It’s been going on for a couple of months. For this to continue to happen, it is very upsetting.”

Ayres said currently there are two plainclothes officers and two uniformed officers assigned to Chestnut Hill. Several attendees recommended that neighbors leave their outside lights on to discourage vandalism and other crimes.

One woman also voiced her concern over parents double parking in front of J.S. Jenks School in the morning. She asked if a policeman could patrol that area between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on school days.

“They [the police] could send a platoon up there to write tickets,” she said. “In some cases, parents are double parked on both sides. Kids are running across Germantown Avenue. Many parents put their blinkers on and leave the car.”

Ayres replied that unfortunately double parking is a problem at every elementary school.

“Somebody is going to get killed and then you’ll all be there,” the woman said. “It is a safety issue that should not be ignored.”

Ayres said he would talk to his supervisor about having someone patrol the area during drop-off. He encouraged residents to talk to school officials about parents dropping off students in the morning.

Ayres also discussed several community programs geared to preventing crime, including Operation ID, a burglary-deterrent program that police launched this year. The program involves labeling property such as computers, GPS, TVs and other electronics with an identifying number to discourage burglary and theft.

Participants display a sticker in the window that warns would-be burglars that their property has been marked. Brochures and forms are available in the lobby at 8434 Germantown Ave. For more information on Operation ID or other programs go to phillypolice.com.

The next PSA 4 meeting will be held on March 20 at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 22 East Chestnut Hill Ave. The meeting will be conducted by Sgt. Tees.