Message from Capt. Jay Landsman, Jr., Commander of Precinct 6/Towson, Baltimore County Police:
I have heard from many residents in the Gaywood and Rogers Forge area as well as the Campus Hills community regarding these crimes that continue to be a thorn in our side. We are doing several things to put a stop to the thefts and other crimes in Rodgers Forge and other communities around the precinct. The theft from auto cases and the recent burglaries are our focus right now. Uniform officers have been instructed to pay special attention to the area. Additionally, we have detectives coming in in the middle of the night to conduct surveillance in the area. We have recently made several arrests for thefts from vehicles and burglaries in Rodgers Forge and Campus Hills neighborhoods. The frustrating thing about these crimes is that they are often committed by juveniles, and juveniles arrested for nonviolent crimes are generally released to the custody of their parents. In the most recent cases in Rodgers Forge and Campus Hills, we requested that the juvenile suspects be placed and not released. Our request was denied by Juvenile Services. The problem with these offenders being released to their parents or guardians is that they are often returning to a home situation that is not healthy. We will continue to try and deter offenders and make arrests.
As far as preventive action that can be taken, there are some things that each resident can do to prevent victimization. There have been news reports and other information circulating about a hand-held device used by thieves to unlock vehicles. I do not doubt that such a device could be acquired. However, no such device has ever been recovered in Baltimore County. I do not have any solid information to provide on effective preventive measures regarding such devices. Some of the news stories recommend keeping your key fob a significant distance away from your vehicle and even storing it in a metal container or in your freezer. I cannot speak with any authority on these devices, so I am not going to tell you to place your key fob in the freezer. However, here are some of the things we know can reduce your chance of victimization:
- Lock your vehicle and make sure that it is locked before you walk away from it.
- Remove all vehicle keys from the vehicle (including keys to other vehicles that may be parked near by). We have experienced numerous cases that start out as a theft from vehicle and turn into a theft of a vehicle, because keys were left in the vehicle.
- Remove valuables from the vehicle. Laptops, purses, wallets, phones and other valuables should never be left in a vehicle.
- I know they are not as popular as they were several years ago, but an anti-theft device like “The Club” or a similar steering wheel lock is another deterrent for thieves.
- Leaving the porch light on in the front and back of the house is a deterrent for suspects, who want to operate under the cover of darkness.
- Trim branches and hedges away from windows and doorways to eliminate areas where suspects can avoid being seen as they attempt to break in to your house.
- Make sure that your doors have a lock on the handle and a deadbolt lock. If there is a window next to the door handle, the deadbolt should be a double key lock and not a thumb lock on the inside. The key should be hung up inside, where your family can find it easily in the event of an emergency. You can also add an additional sliding latch lock or chain on the inside of your door pretty inexpensively.
- Placing a piece of wood or metal in the track of your sliding glass doors and windows can make entry to your home much more difficult for criminals.
- If you have an attached garage, lock the door to your house, even when the garage door is closed. If a thief gains entry to your garage, you do not want to give them easy access to your house.
The suggestions that I provided are not cure-alls for criminal behavior, but they present hurdles for criminals to overcome. Most criminals do not want to work that hard. They do not want to spend a great deal of time in one place. During interviews with our detectives, arrestees have indicated that they seek out unlocked vehicles and other easy targets. I have attached a video provided by a resident in Rodgers Forge that shows a suspect approaching a vehicle and simply checking the door handle. Recently, there was another video sent out from an officer in White Marsh, which showed a suspect walk up to a vehicle and check the handles with a rag in his hand. These suspects were looking for the quick and easy target. The goal for the police and the community is to frustrate the criminals to the point that they no longer find our area desirable. We can do this through practical preventive measures, preventive patrols and by arresting suspects when these incidents occur.
Please feel free to call me at my office or stop by if you wish to talk about these issues further,
Captain Jay Landsman, Jr.
Precinct 6 / Towson
Baltimore County Police Department
115 W. Susquehanna Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
Office (410) 887-5507
Cell (443) 613-5833