Crime Leaves Bethesda Communities On Edge
Concerns about robberies, burglaries exacerbated by home invasion Wednesday; police say the incidents are unrelated.
A string of burglaries and robberies in Bethesda and Chevy Chase has neighbors on edge, and news Wednesday of a Bethesda home invasion robbery has exacerbated concerns.
Police say they have no reason to believe a recent uptick in second district burglaries and a surge of robberies along Western Avenue are related to the home invasion robbery Wednesday, during which a mother, her teenage son, and a housekeeper were bound. The housekeeper, police say, was sexually assaulted.
But neighborhood public safety discussions prompted by the burglaries and robberies are being heightened following the home invasion, said Liz Langsfeld, a resident of the Bethesda’s Crestview neighborhood, near Western Market.
Langsfeld said she first noticed an uptick in thefts from autos in her neighborhood last year. Then, the car thefts started – four from her neighborhood, including hers, which was stolen in mid-September.
Police found it ditched in Northeast Washington, she said.
Neighbors have also been alarmed by an uptick of robberies along Western Avenue in Maryland and the District– police say they’ve noted the trend in the past month. WTOP reported Thursday that armed assailants have robbed as many as 10 people since December, targeting wallets, cash and phones.
“How can I have my kids play out in the front yard? That’s what some of the moms from school are feeling,” said Caroline Swann, whose children attend Westbrook Elementary School. “I really feel like I’m a little bit under siege. I don’t know if our area is being targeted.”
In response to the robberies and burglaries, neighbors tell Patch they’re taking precautions like installing extra lighting and alarm systems, locking doors and windows, and organizing walking parties to and from the Friendship Heights Metro.
Pam Coblin, a Green Acres resident, said that when she sees a neighbor walking from her community to the Friendship Heights Metro, she’ll stop to give them a ride.
Following Wednesday’s home invasion, Langsfeld, who has helped develop an informal neighborhood watch by passing out fliers and helping sign up neighbors to the local listserv, said public safety discussions grew more urgent.
“When I was giving out my fliers, I talked to some homeowners who said, ‘You know, it’s just kids doing this,’” Langsfeld said. “I think finally now my neighbors are like, ‘It’s not kids. It’s more serious than that. It’s adults doing this, with guns.’”
“The listserv [Wednesday] is different in tone – I’m getting emails from people who are really concerned.”
Langsfeld said the Westbrook community, including her neighborhood, has been in regular contact with second district police commander Capt. David Falcinelli and County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1). Neighbors have organized a public safety meeting for Feb. 2.
Langsfeld says she hopes to advocate for more police funding and increased patrols.
A crime briefing is also planned for 7 p.m. Jan. 17 during the regular meeting of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.
Are you concerned about crime in your neighborhood? Tell us in the comments.