Philadelphia Police Officers Robert Mahan (left), Kimberli Harris (center) and Thomas Seymour (right) are assigned to Chestnut Hill. All three officers are highly decorated and have received numerous awards for extraordinary acts of courage without regard for personal safety. Both Officer Seymours and Mahan received commendations for valor, bravery and heroism. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

For years the late Mister Rogers asked children, “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” Now police are asking residents to do the same to help prevent crime.

Three 14th District police officers assigned to Chestnut Hill – Thomas Seymour, Robert Mahan, and Kimberli Harris – are asking residents to share in the responsibility of making their neighborhood a safe and beautiful place to live.

Mahan, 39, of Andorra, said burglaries are one of the biggest problems in Chestnut Hill. He said an important part of his job is educating homeowners on how to prevent them.

“People in Chestnut Hill hesitate to call 911 because they don’t want to bother us,” said Mahan, who has eight years of experience with the Philadelphia Police Department.

Mahan said neighbors of burglary victims will often recall seeing somebody in their neighbor’s backyard after the crime was committed. He said burglars often pose as landscapers or other maintenance workers. He added that burglars will often knock on the door and ask for random people.

Recently, Mahan said an elderly couple were recently arrested in Lower Merion for a series of burglaries.

“They looked like they lived there,” Mahan said. “If you get a sense that something’s not right, call us. We’ll check it out.”

Seymour, 44, of northeast Philadelphia, said residents are listening.

“People are heeding our advice and calling 911 if they see anyone acting suspicious,” said Seymour, a 16-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department.

Some examples of suspicious behavior include sounds of glass breaking, an unfamiliar vehicle circling the block or someone carrying objects out of a house.

“The folks up here have been really responsive and we really appreciate it,” Seymour said. “We can’t do it all by ourselves.”

He added that the residents and the community play a huge part in reducing crime.

“If you see something, report it,” Seymour said.

Harris, 42, of northeast Philadelphia, urged residents to call the district if they know their property is going to be vacant.

“If you are going on vacation, give us a call so we can put it in the roll call log,” said Harris, who has 10 years on the police force. “Everybody will be made aware of it and the district will keep a record of it.”

She said the important thing is to keep the lines of communication open and be proactive.

Harris said recently police were able to make an arrest because a resident was enrolled in Operation ID, a crime prevention program that involves labeling personal property with an identification number and recording serial numbers for those items. After the property is labeled, police provide window stickers to display, letting a potential burglar know that items have been registered.

Recently, three bicycles were stolen from several properties on Rex Avenue.

“We knew what the bikes looked like and were able to identify them,” Seymour said.

Seymour said he and Harris were investigating four youths in connection with an attempted burglary in the 5th District, when she noticed that one of the teenagers was riding on one of the stolen bicycles.

“We were able to arrest all four youths and were able to recover the stolen bicycles,” Seymour said.

“One owner didn’t even notice his bike was missing. We returned his bike to him before he even knew it was missing.”

Seymour added that because the bikes were registered and could be easily identified police were able to make an arrest.

“Even something minor can be important – if we can add possession of a stolen bike to a burglary – it gives us a little more leverage,” Seymour said.

Mahan warned residents to be suspicious of people soliciting money for magazines, sports teams or charities. He said one man claimed to be soliciting money for his daughter’s track team – the Mt. Airy Track Team – which doesn’t exist.

“There is no Mt. Airy Track Team,” Mahan said.

Seymour added: “We don’t want to discourage people from feeling like they can’t contribute to something – but nobody wants to learn that they gave $20 for nothing.”

Harris said if someone makes you feel uncomfortable or gives you a hard sell, call 911.

“Let us come out and assess the situation,” Harris said.

Seymour added that after all it was their duty to serve and protect.

  • John Bellamy

    YOUNG WOMEN/TEEN-AGED GIRLS need to stay in their homes where they BELONG, stop jogging on busy dangerous roads and parks, driving around in EXPENSIVE cars, wearing provocative attire – ALL of which attract criminals. POLICE do NOT prevent crime. COMMON SENSE does.

    • Honestly

      Wow John Bellamy, good thing all those helpless young women have you around to show them the way! We all know the real source of crime in CH is young black men…they’re attracted to guilty white liberals with lots of stuff they can steal with relatively low fear of getting caught. If you don’t believe me, read the crime report on this website each week.

  • Mike

    I think its amusing that there have been multiple articles in the CH Local that have mentioned the infamous ‘Mt Airy Track Team’ scam artist, but no description of this crook has been given. He’s been to my block at least 3 times in the past year, although probably not in the past 6 months, and looked genuinely surprised that I remembered him both the 2nd and 3rd time he knocked on my door and told him I had already declined, and the third time telling him that we knew what he was up to (I probably should have called the police in retrospect but didn’t think anything of it at the time): he’s a black man, probably around 40-45 years old, at least 6 feet tall, with poor teeth. He’s worn a white t shirt and somewhat baggy blue jeans each time he has solicited us. Hope that helps everyone – keep a look out for this guy, some of my very well-intentioned neighbors actually gave him money and are kicking themselves these articles weren’t written a year ago.