Lock it or Lose it: Rise in Car Thefts in the Area Concern Residents

Will Swann and Ali Hellerman

On Thursday, January 26th, residents in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area awoke to the sight of broken window glass where their cars had been parked. Community members took to the neighborhood listserv to voice their concerns.
“My mom looked in the driveway and noticed her car was gone,” said Junior Asher Lewis. “We checked the Ring camera and it showed a man taking the car right from the driveway in broad daylight. Then we called the police and filed a report. [The police] They said they would try their best to locate and return it.”
Similarly, via their neighborhood listserv, one resident reported that their jeep had been stolen straight from their driveway.
However, car theft in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area is nothing new. “Our vehicle was stolen last year [off Saratoga Avenue],” said a Bethesda resident. “Police were called but never arrived so we ended up following the vehicle [using the GPS] back into DC while on the phone with both localities [who did nothing].”
Bethesda-Chevy Chase residents have been frustrated with the police response to these crimes, but some rules prevent officers from going after the stolen cars. “We can’t pursue into DC,” said police officer Morgan Kane, adding, “it’s pointless to call them to make them aware because, under their new laws and guidelines, DC police will not pursue stolen vehicles.”
“If it’s stationary or abandoned, then they may get involved, but once they get into DC, they’re free. Bad guys know this, and this is just one more reason why all the neighborhoods just over the DC line are so vulnerable,” said Kane.
Sick and tired of the robberies that have been ensuing in their neighborhood and how they’ve been handled by law enforcement, Bethesda-Chevy Chase residents have contemplated hiring private security to protect their neighborhood. “Eventually something tragic is going to happen to someone or their children in their own home if we don’t take this seriously enough to hire private security to help stem this escalation of crime,” said a community member on her neighborhood’s listserv.
“I feel like the car theft problem in Bethesda is only getting worse. Especially with the cars that people own around here, they are the number one targets for car theft,” said Lewis.