by Sue Ann Rybak
Lt. Michael Whaley, of the 14th Police District, told a handful of residents at Wednesday night’s Police Sector Area (PSA) 4 meeting held at Lutheran Theological Seminary, 7301 Germantown Ave., that burglaries for July were down.
“Thanks to the efforts of the newspapers, block captains and citizens that have been showing up at these meetings, we have been getting a lot of direct feedback from citizens calling to report suspicious behavior,” Whaley said.
Whaley said three burglaries occurred in PSA 4. They took place on the 8000 block of Seminole Avenue, the 500 block of East Mt. Airy Avenue, and the 500 block of Roumfort Road.
Despite the recent decrease in burglaries, a Chestnut Hill resident, whose neighborhood was recently burglarized, said several homeowners on her block feel totally isolated because they live in a “dead zone.” The problem is that in certain areas of Chestnut Hill officers’ radios don’t work.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said over the years neighbors have met with police officers but nothing has ever changed. She added that several years ago four out of eight houses on her block were burglarized.
“We were told by police then that they knew it was a problem and were working on the issue,” she said.
Recently, her next door neighbor was robbed in the middle of the day. The burglars used a crowbar to gain access to the house.
“I heard him go into the house, but I thought it was the lawn guy,” she said.
Whaley told attendees if they see anyone suspicious call 911.
“It’s always better to be on the safe side,” Whaley said.
“We are a very vigilant neighborhood,” she replied. “We have been trying to work with the system for years. It’s frustrating because we know the radios don’t work. It’s kind of ridiculous.”
In the past, she said some officers have told her to get a gun.
Whaley said he called downtown and inquired about dead zones in Chestnut Hill.
He was told that “no repairs or new towers are being built at this time.”
Whaley suggested that residents contact their elected officials and make them aware of the situation.
The woman said, “Unfortunately, until something happens to them (the other residents), they are not as invested.”
Police arrested Eric Rawls, 37, and Shelvell Freeman, 27, both of Tacoma Street in Germantown, on July 3 on the 8100 block of Germantown Avenue for allegedly robbing a 31-year-old woman on the 8500 block of Shawnee Street on July 1. .
According to the police report, the Chestnut Hill resident was walking down the 8500 block of Shawnee Street when a man approached from behind, pointed a gun at her and demanded she give him her purse and wedding ring. After she gave him the items, he fled on foot. The woman walked home and immediately called police.
Police charged Rawls and Freeman with robbery, simple assault, terroristic threats, criminal conspiracy, violation of the Uniform Firearms Act and other related offenses.
A 22-year-old man was walking with a friend on the 1500 block of Greenwood Avenue in Mt. Airy at approximately 10:29 p.m. on July 15 when shots were fired from a blue Buick, according to Officer Jillian Russell, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Police Department.
The unidentified man was shot in the back and the left leg and foot. He was transported to Einstein Hospital. No arrests have been made.
Thefts from automobiles
While crime in PSA 4 is down compared to the rest of the district, Whaley said there has been a dramatic increase in the number of thefts from autos in Chestnut Hill and parts of Mt. Airy.
“We just want to remind people not to leave valuables in their car especially laptops, cell phones and money,” Whaley said.
Also, he asked residents to call 911 if they see a White Nissan Altima 2011 to 2013 with a Pennsylvania license plate number HZR2483. He said the vehicle, which is wanted in connection with a string of burglaries in Philadelphia, 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.
Before the meeting ended, Whaley reiterated the importance of being proactive in fighting crime. He asked residents not to hesitate to call 911 if something looks suspicious. He also encouraged residents to contact Crime Prevention Officer Lesinette Ortiz at 215-685-2147 to get a free assessment of their property or participate in SafeCam, a program in which residents register their video surveillance cameras with the police, or Operation ID, a property identification program.
The next PSA 4 crime meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Water Tower Recreation Center, 209 East Hartwell Lane. For more information call the 14th Philadelphia Police District at 215-686-3140.