Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, January 17, 2019

'Tenleytown Rats' blamed for car thefts; burglaries double in Northwest D.C.

At recent community meetings, residents and commissioners from Advisory Neighborhood Council 3E expressed concern about a rise in burglaries and home invasions in Northwest D.C.

While the overall crime rate has dropped, burglaries have doubled in recent months in the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District, according to Lt. Alan Hill. There have been over 50 burglaries in American University Park and Chevy Chase in the past two and a half months, according to MPD’s Web site.

The MPD’s Second District contains most of Northwest D.C., including the neighborhoods surrounding AU, Georgetown University and George Washington University. Some burglars have been targeting students living off and on campus.

The Department of Public Safety issued a crime alert after four burglaries occurred on AU’s main campus in one night, targeting five AU students, The Eagle previously reported.

On March 22 between 6:20 and 8:00 p.m., there were two break-ins in Anderson Hall and three break-ins in Letts Hall.

Four laptop computers, an iPod, a television and a number of electronic games were stolen from the rooms. The Department of Public Safety has not apprehended any suspects and has referred the burglaries to MPD.

However, AU’s overall crime rate is not unusually high for this time of year, according to Crime Prevention and Rape Aggression Defense coordinator Lt. Rima Sifri. On-campus crime typically falls to its lowest point during the summer months. AU’s burglary rate remained steady between January and February and spiked in March, mostly because of the five break-ins on March 22, according to Logistics and Compliance Coordinator Adam Cooper.

Students at other universities have also been victims to the recent rise in burglaries. On March 23, four masked men woke a Georgetown student when they entered her bedroom. The suspects fled the house; however, the student and her roommates discovered that $3,000 worth of property had been stolen, GU’s student newspaper The Hoya reported.

There were at least three other burglaries near Georgetown’s campus that week, according to an MPD public service announcement.

Police are adding four or five plainclothes police officers to patrol the north end of the Second District, according to Hill.

The MDP has made several burglary-related arrests in the Second District, including someone with an extensive history of burglaries, according to Commander Matthew Klein. However, burglaries have continued.

Police believe that different groups in Northwest D.C. are committing the burglaries.

“There are different methods of break-ins,” Klein said. “Which leads us to suspect there are probably different groups doing this.”

In a March police report to ANC 3E, Hill announced the arrest of several members of a juvenile gang responsible for a string of car break-ins in Tenleytown. Residents and police have nicknamed the criminals the “Tenleytown Rats.” Some of them might be involved in recent burglaries, according to Hill. However, both juveniles and adults have committed the robberies, Hill said.

In many cases, burglars enter through unlocked windows or back doors. Police have advised residents to make sure their doors and windows are locked and to not leave valuables in plain view. Public Safety recommends that students in the dorms report lost keys immediately and lock their doors.

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