Chevy Chase Village sees rash of car thefts

October 19, 2012

The number of thefts this year in a small suburban enclave is on pace to set a 25-year record, and “all but a handful” have been thefts from cars, authorities said.

One night this week, thieves entered nine vehicles in the Village of Chevy Chase, where there have already been 77 reported thefts, more than in any full year since 2002, officials said.

In response, the village approved a plan this month to deploy a “bait car.”

It would send an alarm when entered, would be wired for audio and video, and would contain items that can be tracked by GPS, according to a proposal from the village’s police chief. It was unclear when the car is to be deployed.

The pace of thefts has appeared to quicken, as indicated by the incidents Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

As many as 16 cars have been broken into this month in the town of about 2,000, which occupies less than half a square mile across Western Avenue from Northwest Washington.

All but a few thefts have involved cars, and almost all of the thefts from cars have involved unlocked vehicles, village Police Chief John M. Fitzgerald said in an e-mail.

He said “far too many” residents leave their cars unlocked all night.

Town figures indicated that 15 of the cars reported entered this month were unlocked.

Fitzgerald said in a memo that the town averaged 25 thefts a year from 2002 through 2007, and 59 from 2008 through 2011. He said the town was on pace to have 88 thefts this year, the most in 25 years.

Other jurisdictions have also reported spikes in thefts from cars at times this year, and have urged residents to lock parked cars and put valuables out of sight.

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