Tuesday, August 28, 2012



Another Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row Exclusive

A continuing wave of burglaries appears to have settled on neighborhoods just outside of downtown Bethesda.

The Town of Somerset, and the patchwork of communities that make up Chevy Chase, have been the hardest hit.  Multiple burglaries - sometimes on the same block, as on Dorset Avenue - have occurred in subdivisions off the "Green Mile" stretch of 355, between downtown Bethesda and Friendship Heights, over the last several weeks.

Saturday's break-in in the 5400 block of Uppingham Street was the 5th burglary in Somerset, the 8th in "ring neighborhoods" outside downtown Bethesda, and the 19th overall since the crimes began July 17.

Termed the "Bling Ring" for the burglars' focus on old-money, wealthy neighborhoods, their break-ins began in Spring Valley, then moved into similar enclaves in Montgomery County days later.  Kenwood, Green Acres, Bethesda, Potomac, Chevy Chase, and Foxhall in DC have been among the victimized areas.

But as crime data for the last few weeks demonstrates, the burglary wave seems to have narrowed to a relatively small area south - and, in one case, east - of downtown Bethesda.

This would suggest that the burglars are casing homes in that area in the daytime.  Residents should not only lock their doors, but take note of suspicious vehicles or persons in the neighborhood, who don't appear to have business there.  If such activity takes place, contact police, and write down tag numbers and descriptions of the people.

As with the Green Acres burglary spree this summer, a confined area of activity will make it far easier for citizens and police to notice suspicious activity.  And hopefully, bring a close to the Bling Ring spree.


Anonymous said...

Your constant crime reports are really quite annoying. It's only called the "bling ring" in your mind. Do you have any idea if any of the robberies you report are connected? How can you call it a "ring". How do you know they're stealing "bling". Previous posts referred to the robberies as a "rampage". Are you kidding? That gives the impression of a band of theives running down the street and breaking down doors. Many of the thefts could be prevented by locking car and house doors. A lot of it is crimes of opportunity. They could be committed by the kid next door for all you know. Stop trying to be a criminologist.

Robert Dyer said...

I'm sorry the crime reports have annoyed you, that certainly was not my intention. My primary goal was to alert residents to lock their homes and vehicles when there is activity in those areas. I do not recall using the term "rampage" in any report on recent burglaries. I've only used that term during a rash of thefts or burglaries in one night within a few blocks. Many of the Green Acres burglaries earlier this summer were in fact committed by a "kid" just as you mentioned. And I did not give a tag name to that wave of crimes. Bling Ring is just a shorthand tag for a series of burglaries recently in wealthy neighborhoods. There seems to be a focus on such neighborhoods, as opposed to ones north of town. As I've stated in several posts, no details are available. The only information is that a burglary has taken place on x date at x address. If having a shorthand tag for unusual crime activity that fits a pattern is annoying readers, rather than making the information easier to follow, I will certainly take that into account in future posts. So, I'm glad you mention that, and welcome further comments by any reader, in hopes that this blog will be more useful to you. Again, the only reason I have posted any crime report was to let citizens in that area know there is activity they should be aware of. That's why in many posts, I have actually encouraged readers to make sure their homes and vehicles are locked. If you or any other reader have further suggestions on improving crime news, please let me know. Frankly, crime is not a topic I prefer to write about. There are many typical urban crimes that I do not cover here. I only post about crime when there is activity unusual for a low-crime area. This is not a "crime blog." But I am always open to advice on improving any aspect of this blog.

Anonymous said...

You use the term "rampage" frequently in your posts about the crimes in May. Three times in June and once in July. It would be useful to know how the crime statistics compare to the same time period last year or if in the average it is nothing out of the ordinary or how it compares to other Bethesda neighborhoods. Sensationalizing the crime puts it out of perspective.

Robert Dyer said...

I stand by the fair and accurate crime reports I've posted. In my opinion, the use of the term "theft rampage" or "burglary rampage" was justified in those cases earlier this summer. 10 thefts in one neighborhood in one night is a rampage by most people's definition. 3 or 4 break-ins in one night within a few blocks? I'm a lifetime resident of Bethesda, and that is definitely unusual for 20816. If I had been a victim, I sure would have called that a rampage. Sensationalizing? I can't do much to sensationalize crimes of the frequency and number that were taking place earlier in the summer. I was concerned about the initial reports when it started. I then searched the county and police and media websites for information. Surprisingly, there was none. People in Green Acres had no idea they had a criminal working the neighborhood. Had there been a public alert, citizens could have better-secured their homes. With no such information available, I did what I could to alert the public. I provided factual crime data, and advised people to lock their doors. And I'm going to be anonymously criticized for that? There was an armed robbery at the Park Bethesda in January. Again, very unusual in 20816. When I helped inform the public regularly in the following weeks, told them extra police were doing a great job in the Westbard area, and that no further incidents were occurring as a result, was that "sensationalizing?" Even the post you're commenting on is telling residents in a neighborhood with recent burglaries to take note of suspicious vehicles and persons, and report that to the police. That's something to criticize? Insulting a citizen who notices a pattern among crimes, and saying he is "trying to be a criminologist" when he providing information and advice helpful to citizens and encouraging them to assist police is uncalled for. The Post, Gazette, etc. are far more sensational, yet didn't bother to tell the public a burglar was heavily working a neighborhood. I think they should be criticized, not the concerned citizens. This is first and only complaint I've had about my crime reports. The crimes happened, the data was accurate, I provided context, and provided a community alert the county and media did not. People can have different opinions on semantics, but the fact is, there was unusual crime activity in 20816 this summer, and I tried to make people aware of it when the local media failed to do so.