Wednesday, December 20, 2006

January's Chat with the Chief

Since the first Monday in January falls on the New Year's Day holiday, the monthly Chat with the Chief will be re-scheduled to Monday January 8th from 7-9 PM at Artmosphere cafe.

FBI Reports Violent Crime Up Nationwide

Yesterday, the FBI released its Uniform Crime Report data for the first half of 2006. The data shows violent crime, particularly robberies and assaults, continuing an alarming upswing that began in 2005. An article in today's Washington Post article quotes criminal justice experts as saying, "Many communities, particularly those in urbanized areas, may be headed into a period of sustained crime increases ..." Not encouraging news, but not unexpected considering the significant increases we have experienced here in Mount Rainier over the past 12 months.

As to the causes, the Bush Administration's cutbacks in aid to local law enforcement to help fund anti-terrorism activities and the war in Iraq, more than $2 Billion since 2002, is right at the top. James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, was quoted as saying: "It's robbing Peter, and maybe even murdering Peter, to pay Paul."

I could not agree more.

Hopefully, our new Congress, new Governor and new State legislators will begin to restore desperately needs funds to assist local agencies in combating violent crime, preventing and suppressing gang violence and influence, and establishing youth initiatives that keep kids from becoming involved in criminal activity. Like politics, public safety is local, and it is critical that resources filter down to the local (municipal) level.

You can read the entire Post article here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/18/AR2006121800377.html

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Crime watch: Week of December 10

12/16/06 4000 block 35th St: Citizen armed robbery
12/16/06 3700 block 35th St: Citizen armed robbery
12/16/06 3100 block Queens Chapel Rd: Simple assault on victim
12/16/06 3200 block Rhode Island Av: Arrestee driving while impaired by alcohol
12/16/06 2900 block Allison St: Citation issued for public drinking
12/16/06 4200 block 28th St: Theft from auto
12/15/06 3400 Ceder Lane Alley: Suspects arrested for drug possession
12/15/06 2400 block Arundel Rd: Residential break and enter
12/15/06 4000 block 29th St: Break and enter commercial business
12/14/06 3300 block Rhode Island Av: Citation issued for urinating in public
12/14/06 2300 block Varnum St: Commercial armed robbery
12/14/06 3700 block Quincy St: Traffic stop, driver arrested for possessing drugs and a loaded handgun
12/14/06 3800 block Eastern Av: Break and enter commercial business
12/14/06 3700 block Quincy St: Traffic stop, individual arrested on an open warrant
12/14/06 4200 block 31st St: Vandalism to residence
12/14/06 2900 block Arundel Rd: Theft from auto
12/14/06 4200 block Eastern Av: Individual arrested for disorderly conduct
12/13/06 3300 block Perry St: Stolen handgun recovered
12/13/06 3200 block Varnum St: Suspect taken into custody after barricade
12/12/06 3700 block 36th St: Citation issued for drinking alcohol in public
12/12/06 4000 block 29th St: Theft from auto
12/1/06 3300 block Chauncey Pl: Residential unlawful entry
12/12/06 3300 block Buchanan St: Suspects arrested for stolen vehicle
12/12/06 4200 block Russell Av: Residential breaking and entering
12/12/06 3700 block 37th St: Theft of auto
12/12/06 2900 block Allison St: Assault caused by teens fighting
12/11/06 2300 block Arundel Rd: Vandalism to commercial property
12/11/06 4200 block Kaywood Dr: Attempt theft of auto
12/11/06 2400 block Arundel Rd: Breaking and entering
12/11/06 4300 block 28th Pl: Attempted breaking and entering - apartment
12/11/06 3800 block 34th St: Warrant Service/vehicle impound
12/10/06 3000 block Arundel Rd: Simple assault on victim
12/10/06 3200 block Queenstown Dr: Domestic dispute between roommates

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Barricade Incident

The police activity residents witnessed this morning was MRPD and PGPD Emergency Services officers responding to a barricade situation in the 3200 block of Varnum Street. At about 6:30 AM, MRPD officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on an individual who barricaded himself in the basement of a private residence. This individual implied that he had a weapon and threatened to kill police if they came in after him. At this point our officers left the residence, set up a security perimeter, and called the Prince George’s County Police Emergency Services Team for assistance. PGPD EST responded and took command of the scene. EST attempted to negotiate with the individual for his peaceful surrender, but was unsuccessful. EST’s use of tear gas also failed to entice him out of the residence. EST officers then made entry into the house and were able to subdue and apprehend him without injury.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Safety Tips

Christmas Trees

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” Although this label is not a guarantee that the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate that the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches when bent between your fingers, and needles do not break. The cut base of the tree’s trunk is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the fresh tree should not lose many needles. Wholesale Christmas tree growers generally harvest their mass-market trees in mid to late October. If you buy a tree from your local garden center (Lowe’s, Home Depot), nursery store, high volume discount store or from a lot operated by a service club, you are most likely getting a tree that can be as much as two months old before it gets to your home. You should ask the seller when his/her trees were cut and shop around for the freshest cut tree possible. Older cut trees are dryer and are more susceptible to catching fire than a fresh cut tree. They will also leave fewer needles in your carpet to be vacuumed up after the holidays!

When setting up a tree at home, place it at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, heating vents and other sources of heat. Be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Make sure your tree stand holds at least 1 gallon of water. As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. The average 6-foot tree has a 4-inch diameter trunk and can consume as much as 4 quarts or 1 gallon of water per day. Clean water is all that is needed to keep the tree fresh. Do not use additives in the water, such as floral preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin. When selecting a location for the tree, try to avoid heavy traffic areas and do not block doorways. HINT: before bringing the tree into the house, cut ½” to 1” off the bottom of the trunk before putting it in its stand, then use hot water when to fill the stand for the first time. The hot water will help dissolve any sealing pitch open up restrictions so the tree can better “drink” water and transpire that water to its leaves.

Decorative Lighting

Indoors or outdoors, use only those lights that have been tested for safety and are UL approved. Check each set of lights, old or new, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.

Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights and a person could be electrocuted by touching a branch.

Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports. Do not use staples or nails to hang strings of lights. Use hooks or clips designed for hanging light strings.

Turn off lights when you leave the house or go to bed.

For added electric shock protection, plug outdoor electric lights and decorations to a protected ground fault circuit (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.

Never use lighted candles on a tree or near evergreens. Always place candles where they will not be knocked down or where small children can reach them.

Decorations

If you have small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of pets and small children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling them. Avoid tree trimmings that resemble food that may tempt a child or your pets.

Use only non-combustible or flame resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested.

Follow container directions carefully when using snow sprays to avoid lung irritation.

Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire could result as wrapping paper burns suddenly and intensely. If you plan to hang stockings over your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

Safe Shopping Tips

These tips will be coming to you in the December/January iss ue of The Message, but I thought it would be useful to post them here as well. Although these tips are particularly useful during the holiday season, you should be mindful of them all year long.

Since crime peaks during the holiday season, it’s important that you learn how to keep yourselves and your loved ones out of harm’s way. Criminals look for the easiest opportunity when deciding where and when to commit a crime. Shoppers, particularly women, can be vulnerable to crimes such as theft, robbery and assault. The following crime prevention tips and recommendations will help you make your holiday shopping a safe and happy experience.

· Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Knowing what is around you can keep you from being surprised, and it also allows you time to react if something appears suspicious.

· Display confidence. Criminals tend to choose a victim who looks like an easy target. That choice is partially based on their perception about your ability to react to an attack. If you walk with purpose, scan the area around you, and make casual eye contact with others around you, you are displaying confidence.

· Trust your instincts. Your body will tell you when someone or some thing is suspicious. If you have an intuitive feeling that something is wrong, do not second-guess yourself. React immediately and take action to reduce your risk.

· Keep a close eye on your children while shopping. Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard if they ever get separated from you in a store or mall. Make sure they know their first and last name so they can tell someone who they are. It's best to keep children under four in a stroller. Children in shopping carts should be properly belted and seated in the child carrier area at all times —never let your child stand in or push a shopping cart. If possible, leave your children with a baby-sitter while you are shopping. For holiday shopping, consider making arrangements with family or friends/neighbors, and take turns baby-sitting.

· Carry only what you need. Extra cash, credit cards, checks, jewelry and other items should be left at home. If it is necessary to carry a purse, keep it in front of you and close to your body. Men should keep wallets out of back pockets where they can be easily stolen. Carry wallets in a front coat or pants pocket, or use a money clip as an alternative.

· Don’t be overburdened with packages. Carrying several shopping bags makes you look vulnerable. Request a store to hold your merchandise until you’re finished shopping. If the store does not offer that service, put excess packages in the trunk of your car before you continue shopping.

· Shop with others. The chance of being victimized drops off dramatically when with you are with a companion. If there are three or more people together, the chance of being targeted for crime is 90% less than when you’re alone.

· Ask for an escort. Most retailers and shopping malls have private security personnel on duty, especially during the holidays. Ask them for an escort to your vehicle if you are uncomfortable venturing into the parking lot alone.

· Be prepared. Have your keys in hand when walking to your vehicle. The keys can be used as a defensive weapon and you will not waste time trying to find them while standing outside your vehicle. Carry a whistle or a personal alarm. These devices can alert security personnel and other persons around you that something is wrong.

· Plan ahead. Choose parking areas where lighting is good and activity is high. Keep valuables inside your car out of view, preferably in the trunk or other secure compartment. Make sure you lock your car, and use a Club or other anti-theft device. Most thefts from auto occur on cars that are left unlocked.

Crime Watch: Week of December 3

12/09/06 3200 block Queenstown Dr: Suspect(s) stole auto
12/09/06 2900 block Arundel Rd: Non-aggravated assault arrest
12/09/06 2700 block Allison: Destruction of property
12/09/06 3400 block Newton St: Theft from auto
12/09/06 2700 block Allison St: Suspect(s) stole auto
12/08/06 4200 block 28th St: Suspect(s) stole auto
12/07/06 3200 block Queens Chapel Rd: Theft from business
12/06/06 4000 block 29th St: Theft from auto
12/06/06 4100 block Russell Av: Theft from auto
12/06/06 3800 block 32nd St: Theft from auto
12/05/06 4300 block 28th Pl: Suspect(s) stole auto
12/04/06 3400 block Rhode Island Av: Vandalism to property
12/04/06 4300 block 28th Pl: Theft from auto
12/04/06 3200 block Chillum Rd: Suspects tried to rob victim
12/04/06 2700 block Arundel Rd: Vandalism to auto
12/03/06 3500 block Bunker Hill Rd: Auto fire
12/03/06 3800 block 33rd St: Burglary and CDS arrest
12/03/06 4200 block Russell Av: Warrant Service during vehicle check
12/03/06 4000 block 34th St: Vandalism to auto

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Safety Video

The following safety video was produced by the Broward County Sheriff's Department (Florida) and provides important safety information to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

http://video.sheriff.org/psa_cartheft.shtml

Crime Watch: Week of November 26

12/02/06 4200 block Rainier Ave: Vandalism to auto
12/02/06 4100 block 30th St: Vandalism to auto
12/01/06 3300 block Chauncey Pl: Open warrant served after loitering stop
12/01/06 2300 block Varnum St: Suspects attempt commercial robbery
12/01/06 3400 block Rhode Island Av: Suspect cited for drinking in pubic
11/29/06 3100 block Queens Chapel Rd: Suspect arrested after citizen robbery
11/29/06 4200 Russell Av: Vandalism to auto
11/28/06 4200 block Rainier Av: Theft from auto
11/28/06 3300 block Chillum Rd: Vandalism to commercial business
11/28/06 3200 block Perry St: Theft from residential home
11/28/06 4100 block 34th St: House fire
11/27/06 3300 block Rhode Island Av: Suspect cited for drinking in public
11/26/06 4700 block 27th St: Theft from residential apartment
11/26/06 4400 block 28th St: Theft from auto
11/26/06 4000 block 33rd St: Theft of auto

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fraud Alert

I received this information via e-mail this morning. This is why I like to get holiday gift cards from my bank.

Crooks have found a way to rob you of your gift card balance. If you buy gift cards from a display rack that has various store cards, you may become a victim of theft. Crooks jot down the card numbers in the store and then wait a few days and call to see how much of a balance they have on the card. Once they find the card is "activated", they go online and start shopping. You may want to purchase your card(s) from the store's customer service window where the gift cards are not viewable by the public.

For more information on this scam, check out the information on Snopes.com.

http://www.snopes.com/fraud/sales/giftcard.asp