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Residents Urged to Police Communities

Police described ways to prevent crime as simple as locking doors and removing valuables from plain view.

Twenty nine percent of the crimes reported in the Mount Vernon area between last October and March involved vehicle tampering and another 23 percent were vandalism. That's what the The Mount Vernon Citizens’ Advisory Council (CAC) learned at its monthly meeting March 15.

Detectives Matthew Griffin and Daniel Griffith discussed their patrols in Police Service Area (PSA) 220 and 221, which make up most of the District west of southern Route 1.

They said there were 160 criminal offenses reported in those two PSA’s between October and March. In response to a question, Griffin estimated that 50% of the vehicle thefts had occurred when the vehicles were left unlocked. 29% of the crimes were vehicle tampering, most of the incidents clustered around Russell Road, Graves Lane, and Madge Street. 23% were for vandalism, mainly centering on Keeler Road. Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays were the days when crime most frequently occurred.

They advised removing valuable from plain view and locking doors and closing windows of houses and cars as simple ways to prevent crime.

"Don’t make it easy for them," Griffith suggested.

They also advised participants to become involved in policing their own communities. "Be a participant, not a spectator," one PowerPoint slide read.

If you see a suspicious person, Griffin advised, be sure to notice specifics of what made you suspicious. "Maybe the person is just having a bad day."

Griffith added that being able to describe specific details aids the police in tracking down the suspicious person.

The audience had an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the presentation. Most of the questions focused on juvenile crime, specifically the difficulties of incarcerating juveniles and keeping them from returning repeatedly to crime in Mount Vernon neighborhoods.

CAC chairwoman Judy Schultheis informed people that the county would be allocating funds soon, and as it did last year, The Mount Vernon CAC would be hiring a bus to carry supporters for their annual trip to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Government Center in Fairfax. "When they call for [supporters] from Mount Vernon, we’ll stand up and they’ll know we are a force to be reckoned with."

Lt. Shawn Bennett, the Assistant Commander, thanked CAC for being "unbelievable." He said that he counted over thirty people in the room, and that most other district CAC’s usually had only seven to 10 people. He confirmed that their busing efforts last year definitely had an effect on funding.

Schultheis urged people to make reservations for this year’s bus in April, although they had not yet confirmed the exact date. She was able to confirm, however, that "there will be cookies on the bus."

The officers advised citizens to call the Police Department at (703) 691-2131 in order to report a crime in a non-emergency situation.