by Sue Ann Rybak

Spring is finally here, and the weather is perfect for walking, hiking, biking or running in the Wissahickon. Unfortunately, residents aren’t the only ones hitting the trail.

Police are warning residents to be aware of a recent rash of car break-ins near or in the Wissahickon Park.

Last month, there were 29 thefts from vehicles in the 14th district. Several of the thefts occurred on the same street. On April 25, three vehicles were broken into on the 7200 – 7300 block of Devon St.

Police Officer Bob Mahan, said thieves are targeting cars parked near parks, train stations or secluded streets. He said thieves recently hit cars on Bells Mill Road, Valley Green Road and Wolcott, and Summit Street.

“First, they check to see if your car door is unlocked,” he said. “ If it’s locked, they will get a screwdriver and pry open the top of the window so they can gain access to the vehicle.”

Mahan said thieves are often looking for credit cards, cell phones and other small electronic devices.

He said residents need to be vigilant and report any strange or suspicious behavior.

“If you see someone sitting in a car in a park parking lot reading the newspaper or a book for an extended amount of time – versus sitting on a bench – you might want to take a photo of their car’s license plate,” Mahan said.

He said last summer, a woman jogger reported seeing a man acting suspiciously near Valley Green Inn.

“She took a photo of his license plate number and we found out later that he had warrants from last year for alleged thefts from vehicles,” he said. “Thanks to the public’s help last year, we were able to arrest Daniel Duncan, of West Philadelphia and two of his female accomplices in an undercover operation near Valley Green Inn.”

He recommended people remove all valuables from their car and take precautions to curtail thieves.

“If you must leave valuables in your car, make sure they are locked in your trunk or secured before you arrive at your destination,” Mahan said.

Mahan encouraged residents to attend the next Community Crime Meeting on Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Water Tower Recreation Center, 200 E. Hartwell Lane in Chestnut Hill.