by Sue Ann Rybak
Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a White Nissan Altima 2013 to 2011 with a Pennsylvania license plate number HZR2483 in connection with a string of burglaries in Philadelphia.
Lt. Michael Whaley, of the 14th Police District, asked residents at the PSA 4 meeting held at Germantown Christian Assembly Church, 610 E. Mt. Pleasant Ave., on June 26, to call 911 if they see the automobile. Whaley said the vehicle was last seen near the 500 block of E. Mermaid Lane on June 26. Police pursued the vehicle but were unable to continue a high speed chase throughout a local neighborhood.
“The occupants of this car typically drop a person off,” Whaley said. “Then one of the suspects will attempt to burglarize the residence and later the car will swing back around. We are actively trying to bring these people into custody.”
Only a handful of residents turned out for the meeting. One reason for the low turnout could have been the confusion over the site of the meeting. Originally, the police website said the meeting would be held at 610 E. Mt. Airy Ave.
Whaley said from June 1 to June 25, there were nine burglaries in PSA 4 and four robberies.
One attendee asked Whaley what kind of behavior burglars would exhibit if they were casing the neighborhood.
Whaley said they will typically knock on the door and ask for some random person. Whaley said when the homeowner replies he doesn’t live here, they will make a mental note of what your car looks like and your address. He said they usually come back when they don’t see your car and attempt to burglarize your property.
“Right now, we want people to call us if anything looks out of the ordinary,” Whaley said. “Let us be the one to apologize to people if they have a legitimate excuse to be there. The bottom line is we need citizens to be more engaged in their own neighborhoods. You don’t have to feel bad about whether you make a mistake or not. It’s better to err on the side of caution.”
Police are asking residents to install surveillance cameras and alarm systems. Police are encouraging residents and business ownerss to join the Philadelphia Police’s SafeCam program – an online initiative that allows residents and businesses owners to register their security cameras.
Recently, thanks to video surveillance obtained through the SafeCam program, police were able to arrest Germantown resident Antuane Brown in connection with the sexual assault of four girls aged 12-17 years old in Germantown. SafeCam has helped the police department solve 85 crimes and has resulted in 37 arrests.
Whaley noted that while several homes in Chestnut Hill do have alarms, they are often not activated.
In May, a burglary on the 700 block of St. Andrews St., one of the biggest thefts to date in the 14th District, resulted in thieves stealing $100,000 worth of jewelry from the home. According to police reports, an alarm was installed but not activated.
Whaley encouraged residents to participate in Operation ID, a burglary-deterrent program that encourages residents to label personal property such as televisions, computers, cell phones and GPS devices with a state identification card number or state driver’s license and recording serial numbers.
Participants are then provided with window stickers to display to let burglars know that your items have been labeled. If a burglar is caught with labeled property, it is solid evidence of possession of stolen goods.
Whaley also recommended iPhone or smart phone users to download an application that enables police to track their phone using GPS.
“We are actively working to catch these criminals, but we need your help,” Whaley said.
The next PSA 4 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Ave.