Capt. Joel Dales talks to residents of Chestnut Hill at the Crime Summit meeting held on Thursday, June 21 at the Norwood-Fontbonne Academy . (from left sitting- Police Officer Stephen Arbiz, Police Officer Rodney Brown, Debra Naish from District Attorney's Office and Capt. Winton Singletary. Standing is Capt. Joel Dale of the 14th Police District.

by Sue Ann Rybak

Capt. Joel Dales of the 14th Police District asked for the public’s help in identifying suspects in two recent burglaries at a crime summit meeting held last night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, 8900 Norwood Ave.

According to Dales, from June 5 to June 18 a total of 14 residential burglaries occurred in Police Service Areas (PSA) 3 and 4, which cover Chestnut Hill and areas in Mt. Airy. Police said in two of the burglaries, the description of the offenders was similar.

The first burglary occurred on the 400 block of West Moreland Street at 2:40 p.m. on June 5. According to police two suspects were seen in the area at the time of the burglary. Police describe the first offender as a tall African American male with a dark complexion. The second suspect is described as a thin African American male with a dark complexion. A black Chevy Trailblazer was seen in the area during the time of the burglary.

The second burglary occurred at 2 p.m. on June 15 on the 1000 block of W. Allens Lane. According to police the three suspects are all African American males between the ages of 16 and 20 years old. A black Chevy Trailblazer was caught on video in the area during the time of the burglary.

“We’re working – we want you to work with us,” Dales said.

The crime summit meeting was sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and West Moreland Town Watch to address a series of recent burglaries in the neighborhood and to create a forum to educate and inform the community.

Attending the meeting in addition to Dales were Capt. Winton Singletary, commanding officer of the Northwest Detective Division, Debra Naish, of the District Attorney’s Office, Officers Stephen Arbiz and Rodney Brown.

More than 100 residents turned out to voice their concerns and find out what steps the police are taking to combat the recent increase in burglaries in the neighborhood. Several residents reported incidents of people knocking on doors asking for someone they didn’t know. Other concerns included a slow response time, a lack of communication and a lack of police presence in the community.

Dales addressed the complaint of a lack of police presence by stating that currently two police officers – a foot beat officer and an undercover officer – have been patrolling the neighborhood for the last four months in an effort to decrease crime. He added that arrest rates in the 14th District were up by 58 percent.

Dales encouraged residents to be vigilant and proactive. He urged residents to form or join Town Watch. Dales offered some simple steps to help prevent burglaries and thefts:

  • Don’t announce you’re going on vacation on Facebook, Twitter or other social media.
  • Stop mail from coming to your house or ask a neighbor to pick it up.
  • Ask a neighbor to park his or her car in your driveway.
  • Install an alarm system and make sure the security company calls the police first not your house.
  • Install motion sensors on the second floor, burglars often use lawn chairs and other items to climb in through the second floor window.
  • Install a video surveillance system and face a camera towards the street.
  • Have someone come in and out of your house to check.
  • Call Police Officer Hall, the 14th district crime prevention officer, at 215-685-2148 to have a home or business security survey done.
  • Lock your windows and doors. Thieves often slip in a unlocked door and grab a laptop or other item.
  • Secure your air conditioner..
  • Don’t leave laptops, GPS, cell phone or other items in automobile.

Dales also encouraged people to join iWatch and SafeCam, two new crime prevention initiatives. IWatch allows citizens to report crime and suspicious activity anonymously by downloading a free application to their Smart Phones. SafeCam allows residents and businesses to register their security camera to the police’s surveillance network.

He asked people to trust their instinct.

“Know who your neighbors are,” Dales said. “Call the police if you see someone acting suspiciously.”

Hannelore Barbieri, a Chestnut Hill resident, said the meeting was very informative.

“I like being in the loop,” Barbieri said. “I would like to know more about [crime] trends in the neighborhood.”

Another Chestnut Hill resident, Barbara Spaeth commented on the number of residents who attended the meeting.

“There was a good turnout,” Spaeth said. “It means a lot to police when people show up in large numbers.”

Dorothy Potash, who helped organized the crime summit, said people need to know what the police are doing to combat crime in their neighborhood. She added that knowing what is happening “behind the scenes” makes “people feel more secure.”

Potash felt that there was an absence of public officials at the meeting, even though representatives from Councilwoman Cindy Bass and the Mayor’s Office were invited.

“We understand resources are tight but we need meet to discuss confines of what we’re dealing with and what they are doing,” Potash said. “Communication is key.”

Dales encouraged residents to attend the next PSA 4 Meeting, which will be held on June 27 at 7 p.m.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story misspelled Captain Dales last name as Dale.