Smashed windows and pried-open doors have been quite a bit more common than usual in Bethesda recently. Montgomery County Police are investigating 105 car thefts that occurred in a two-week period between June 5 and June 19.
The thieves stole GPS systems, satellite radios, cell phones, radios, purses and credit cards, according to police. Police did not confirm that the thieves are professionals, but the high number of incidents indicates a facility with their craft.
"There have been quite a few [break-ins], so they certainly are getting good at it," said Melanie Hadley, a spokesperson for Montgomery County Police.
No arrests have been made, and it is not known if the car thefts are related to a carjacking that occurred in Bethesda just after midnight on Friday, June 22.
In that incident the victim was assaulted by three suspects outside of the 7-Eleven at 5112 River Road in Bethesda. The suspects obtained the victim's car keys before fleeing in the victim's vehicle, a red 2006 Mazda 3. The vehicle was recovered later that morning in Northwest Washington, D.C. after a concerned citizen saw the unoccupied vehicle and alerted police.
Police described the primary suspect as a black male, 5-foot-10, 200 pounds with short black hair and wearing all black clothing. The other two men in the carjacking incident are described by police only as black males.
THE WAVE of car thefts occurred throughout downtown Bethesda and in surrounding residential neighborhoods. Some of the incidents occurred in parking garages during the daytime and in neighborhoods during the evenings and overnight, according to police. The methods of entry have varied from breaking window to prying open doors or accessing cars with unlocked doors.
There is what Hadley termed a "vague" description of a black male suspect with dreadlocks, approximately 30 years of age. A person matching that description was seen in the area of one of the thefts immediately following one of the incidents.
"We're looking at anybody and everybody," Hadley said of the theft suspects.
Anyone with information about the car theft incidents and/or the suspect(s) is asked to call the 2nd District Investigative Section at 301-657-0112. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Anyone with information about the carjacking on June 22 is asked to call the Major Crimes Division - Robbery Section at 240-773-5100. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call the Crime Solvers number. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment in this felony crime.
POLICE URGE that residents take precautionary measures to avoid becoming victims of thefts from their vehicles. These measures include locking vehicle doors and setting the vehicle alarm. Take anything valuable out of the vehicle when you get out of your vehicle, police say, park your vehicle in well-lit areas, and report activities as soon as they occur. The non-emergency number for Montgomery County Police is 301-279-8000 and in an emergency dial 911.