Metro: Vehicle break-ins spike at some stations

There’s been an uptick in vehicle break-ins at Metro’s parking facilities along the Red, Blue, Orange lines, according to transit authority police.

There were 19 break-ins last Thursday at Metro parking facilities — 12 of them at the Largo Town Center garage, Metro said. In response, police said they are changing the way they patrol and monitor some areas.

Metro Transit Police Deputy Chief Ronald Pavlik described the increase as an “anomaly.”

“It spiked out of control,” he said Tuesday. “We think it is the same people because traditionally . . . thieves usually hit two or three cars and leave. But these may be rookies or people who are greedy.”

The break-ins were what Metro officials call “smash-and-grabs,” where thieves break into a car that has valuables — purses, loose coins, CDs, GPS devices — left in plain sight.

The July 14 break-ins included 12 at Largo; four at Addison Road; and one each at Vienna, White Flint and Fort Totten, Metro officials said.

In one case, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said, a victim left “an empty laptop bag on the back seat” of a vehicle.

“The criminal doesn’t take that into account,” he said. “Seeing that may be all the motivation needed to break a window and grab it.”

Auto-related offenses are on pace with where they were for the same period last year, Pavlik said.

In response to the recent break ins, Metro Transit Police are “changing tactics.” Some plainclothes officers will be used and there will be increased“visibility around the system’s parking lots and garages where roughly 65,000 vehicles park each day, Pavlik said.

In May, there were two incidents of car-jackings — one at the New Carrolton Metro station, the other at Largo. In the Largo case, four masked men robbed a 54-year-old father and his daughter, 21, in the parking garage.The father struggled with the men and was struck in the head with a gun; the woman was shot in the hip.

They were both treated and later released. No arrests have been made in those cases, Stessel said.

Police officials reminded Metro customers to “take extra vigilance” by putting away things of value.

“Don’t be an attractive target,” Pavlik said. “Don’t leave anything in plain view.”

Even leaving the imprint from a suction cup of a GPS device on a windshield can be tempting for a would-be thief. Carry a cloth and wipe off the ring, officials said.

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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