Thefts from Mailboxes

We have had thefts from mailboxes in some parts of West Laurel.  Please report thefts to the Postal Inspector and the police.

It is advised not to put checks or anything valuable in your outgoing mail.  Take it the post office.  If you put outgoing mail in your mailbox, do not put the flag up.  The carrier will still take the  outgoing mail IF you have incoming mailt to be delivered.  Instead of mailing checks, use your bank's online bill paying service or pay online via your accounts.

From the District IV Police:

When fueling your vehicles, keep your keys in your hand, secure valuables on your person or lock your car doors. Below is an excerpt from an incident that occurred off Cherry Hill Road:

The victim stated that she was at the gas pump and began to walk away from her 1998 Silver Honda CRV, when someone told her that the suspect (Unknown) stole items out of her car. The victim ran back to her vehicle to see if anything was taken when she realized that her wallet, which contained 120 dollars cash, 3 credit cards, and her driver’s license was gone off the front passenger seat. The suspect opened the passenger side front door, which was unlocked, grabbed something and then fled into the apartment complex

Around the County, there have been cases where a second car will pull alongside the person who is fueling up.  A passenger in the suspect car hunches down out of sight, and opens passenger side car door undetected.  They’re good at stealing purses and wallets this way.

Warning from PG Police

Yesterday (April 6), WJLA Channel 7 News teamed up with our Regional Investigations Division, and our Media Relations Division to do an experiment in a PGPD community to expose citizens’ vulnerabilities to cunning criminals.  This experiment was originally supposed to occur in Clinton, an area that had experienced a small string of these types of home invasions burglaries. But due to yesterday’s plane crash, they moved it the experiment to Beltsville. [They wanted to move it as far away from the crash, since traffic was awful.]

Here’s what they did:

An actor knocked on random residences to find someone home. He was driving a non-descript truck, and wore a safety vest, hard hat, and ID card that was purposefully turned toward his chest so it couldn’t be read. The actor told the homeowner that he was with the ‘Water Department’ and needed to check something inside their home. In 70% of cases, the homeowners admitted this person entrance without asking any questions or verifying any identification. One person told the actor he could go into her home unattended so the homeowner could do some gardening outside.   The actor and news team never entered homes. As soon as permission was granted, they pointed out what was really happening. WJLA is planning to air the experiment in late April.

Please remind everyone to be curious and bold enough to ask questions, and to say ‘no’ with conviction, as appropriate.  It is extremely rare that a utility company would have to enter your home. You can always make the person wait outside while you call the company to verify. And don’t use the company number provided by the person at the door!

In Clinton, they had a few cases where two men approached a house, dressed as workmen.  The victims let the men inside, and while one person distracted the victim, the other ran upstairs to steal jewelry and any other valuables that could be quickly grabbed.  The County also had a couple of banks robbed by a suspect wearing a hard hat and safety vest!

I wanted you all to be aware, and share this information with your friends, family, and neighbors. Thank you, and stay safe!

Captain Susan Smith, #2183
Prince George’s County Police
Assistant Commander, District VI
Office 301-937-0910

Dear Neighbors,
The past 24 hours have been a nightmare for very dear friends of mine who live in North Potomac.  The dad got a text message yesterday afternoon from Mexico with a video showing a young women who generally looked like his daughter saying they had her and he was to follow all their instructions or they would kill her.  Basically they had him sending money to them.  He didn’t go home, or call the police, but was going from bank to bank to send money for the past 24 hours.
 His wife reported him missing last night and through a MD-DC-VA alert, and used Facebook to get the word out.  The police alert worked and a bank teller recognized him in Silver Spring today and the police were called.  Only then did he find out it was a scam. He is just getting home now after 24 hours of thinking his child had been kidnapped and was being harmed.
It is a parent’s nightmare to have a child threatened, and caused tremendous emotional trauma for their family.  I talked with their son a few minutes ago who said that the police indicated this is a current scam in the DC Metro area.  It is very sophisticated as the Mexican phone number and texts could not be tracked. 
Please spread the word, if you received an email or text regarding a family member, call 911 immediately.
Melissa Daston

More on Scams

Scams are as old as mankind and they continue to thrive and evolve. The Internet age has enabled scammers to operate without coming face to face with potential victims. What follows is information on a virtual kidnapping ransom scam that has targeted multiple NIH employees in recent weeks and tips to prevent it from happening to you.

Virtual Kidnapping Ransom Scam

The scam typically begins with a phone call saying your family member is being held captive. The caller may allege your daughter has been kidnapped and you hear a female screaming in the background. Another variant of the fraud has a family member being held because he/she caused an auto accident, is injured and won't be allowed to go to the hospital until damages are paid. Callers will typically provide the victim with specific instructions to ensure a safe return of the family member. You may be ordered to stay on the line until money is wired. The caller may claim not to have received the money and may demand more payment. The following is taken directly from a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Press Release and explains how to avoid becoming a victim:

To avoid becoming a victim of this extortion scheme, look for the following possible indicators:

* Incoming calls come from an outside area code, sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes (787), (939) and (856).

* Calls do not come from the alleged kidnapped victim's phone.

* Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone.

* Callers prevent you from calling or locating the "kidnapped" victim.

* Ransom money is only accepted via wire transfer service.

If you receive a phone call from someone who demands payment of a ransom for a kidnapped victim, the following should be considered:

* Try to slow the situation down. Request to speak to the victim directly. Ask, "How do I know my loved one is okay?"

* If the callers don't let you speak to the victim, ask them to describe the victim or describe the vehicle the victim drives, if applicable.

* Listen carefully to the voice of the kidnapped victim if he/she speaks.

* Attempt to call, text, or contact the alleged victim via social media. Request that the victim call back from his or her cell phone.

* While staying on the line with the alleged kidnappers, try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.

* To buy time, repeat the caller's request and tell them you are writing. down the demand, or tell the caller you need additional time to meet their demands.

* Don't directly challenge or argue with the caller. Keep your voice low and steady.

* Request the alleged kidnapper allow the victim to call you back from his/her cell phone.

* At the earliest opportunity, notify your local police department.

To help prevent this scam, check privacy settings on social media accounts and revisit the information you publicize on those accounts. The more information available to the public, the more information scammers can use to convince you into believing a scam is real.

Police News and Updates

Overall major crime is down but there are two things to be aware of:

- Stealing air bags from HONDAS is very hot right now.  So please lock you car.

- Theft from autos due to leaving them unlocked is a chronic issue.  Don't leave valuables in your car and lock it.

Also South Laurel reports skimming of credit cards at ATMs.

Theft from auto prevention

POFC F. Castro from Prince George's County Police Departmen

*NON-EMERGENCY (301) 352-1200


Theft of Handicap Placards !!!

Police Officer Terry Gordon from Prince George's County Police Department 

I want to take this time to remind all my residents in the F4 service area that theft of handicap placards are on the rise once again! Please take the time to remove your placard and secure it in a safe location, this will help prevent you from becoming a victim of this kind of crime!

Prince George's County Police Department's New Crime Prevention Tool

Police Officer Terry Gordon from Prince George's County Police Department 

The Prince George's County Police Department has a new, high-tech tool up its sleeve, using forensic science to fight property crime.

Police hope burglaries will dry up by showering the county in Smartwater.
CEO Phil Clearly said, “We only need a speck the size of a grain of sand and we can tell the location where [a stolen item] came from.”

Each kit contains forensic fluid with a unique code, like DNA, but Smartwater uses inorganic material because it lasts longer than DNA, detectable at least five years.

“If they try to scrape it off, they're putting incriminating evidence all over their location,” Clearly said.

According to Clearly, the product can be applied to just about any surface. Most often, it is used on jewelry, electronics, firearms as well as sentimental items. Special solutions are available for items that make contact with skin.

PGPD Chief Hank Stawinski said, “We'll have the capacity to prevent, detect and the ability to return property to the people who lose it in a lot of instances.”

Anyone can purchase a kit online and register up to ten items in the Smartwater database.

Like most security systems, customers get a sign to be posted outside their homes and stickers for their windows, warning criminals to stay away. Customers pay $5 a month to keep their items registered in a Smartwater database.

Thanks to $50,000 from the Prince George’s County Police Foundation and Crime Solvers, PGPD will soon provide free kits to hundreds of residents in high-crime areas such as Suitland/Coral Hills, Hillcrest Heights / Marlow Heights and Langley Park.
At the same time, officers will increase outreach to pawn shops, carrying UV lights.

But with or without Smartwater, police still encourage residents to inventory their valuables, noting serial numbers and taking photos.

“It's hard to describe that woman's gold ring with a diamond on it with so many different styles,” said PGPD Sgt. Milton Chabla.

Police have teamed up with Smartwater in 30 other U.S. cities. In Florida, where the company is based, several departments have seen a drop in burglaries.

In Prince George's Country, property crime is already trending downward - about 10,000 cases last year - but the Chief hopes this technology will accelerate that.

SmartWaterŽ is an international crime fighting and crime prevention company with an established track record for detecting and deterring criminal activity. We have created a wide range of crime reduction programmes utilising our cutting-edge traceable liquid products which have been highly successful in reducing crimes, such as burglary and metal theft.

Whether you are looking to reduce pilferage, protect your infrastructure and assets, enhance security or feel safer at home we have a product and service to suit.

Community Alert About Kidnapping/Extortion Scam

We want to alert members of our community about a scam that’s impacted some of our residents. The suspect or suspects are telling victims that their family member has been kidnapped and then demanding money.

In the last month, we’ve received reports of more than one dozen of these cases in Prince George’s County. In each case, a man calls a family member directly and demands money be transferred to a bank in Puerto Rico in return for their kidnapped family member’s safe return. Many of these calls are coming from a “240” area code. The scammer(s) have successfully received a money transfer from some of their targeted victims. Preliminarily, it’s believed the suspect is identifying victims through social media.

We are investigating these incidents with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Robbery Unit at (301) 772-4905. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411 TIPS (8477), text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone, or go to to submit a tip online.

Stolen Handicap Placards

Countywide we have been experiencing a rise in the theft of handicap placards from parked vehicles. Please read the following in regards:
Placards must be hung on the inside rearview mirror. If the vehicle does not have an inside mirror, or the inside mirror is not visible from the rear, you may display the placard on top of the dashboard on the driver’s side. Please make sure the placard side displayed shows the expiration date of the disability placard.

Note: You must remove all hanging placards from the rearview mirror while your vehicle is in motion.

You must always have your copy of the medical certification in your possession whenever you use the placard or plates. This certification must be presented to law enforcement upon request.

Thieves have been targeting vehicles that have their handicap placards visible when they are in remote locations, many of which are not in handicap parking spaces. Due to this fact, please remove your placard from view when it is not in use.

Citizens Advisory Council

The monthly meeting of the Citizens Advisory Council and the District VI officers was last week.  Thought I’d give the community an update on what’s happening around the area.

From the new Beltsville Station Commander, Major Brian Addis.

-      County-wide violent crime is down 7.7%, property crime is down 12.3%
-      In our region overall crime is slightly up from last year but both violent and property crime are following the downward county trend from last year
-      They have arrested the person responsible for the 7-11 Garret Cove robbery in Beltsville
-      New personnel arriving to help fill the low numbers at the Beltsville station.

General news.   There is a special Police Thanksgiving scheduled for November 15th at the Beltsville Station.  We have several volunteers to cover the 1:30 to 4:30 shift but we can always use more.  If you want to volunteer, give me a call (301-776-2314) or send an email to

What’s happening in the communities around us?

-      Requests for speed cameras from all
-      Dirt bikers on the Cross-Creek golf course
-      Mail disappearing in Montpelier Forest

Communities: Beltsville, Calverton, Cherryvale, Cross Creek, Montpelier, Montpelier Forest, Montpelier Hills, North Creek, Snowhill Estates, Victoria Falls, and West Laurel.


Warm-up Theft!

PFC Radames Gonzalez from Prince George's County Police Department

The term “Warm-Up Theft” is a widely used term among car thieves to describe the stealing of a car that has been left running and unattended to “warm-up.” During the winter months, many motorists are tempted to leave their vehicle running in an attempt to warm up the interior of the vehicle prior to getting behind the wheel. However, this practice is one that causes two problems. First, leaving a car unattended and running is a violation of the State of Maryland Vehicle Law, Article 21 Section 1101 (a) and second, the practice of leaving your vehicle running and unattended provides for a quick and easy target for car thieves. Following these simple tips will help keep you from being left out in the cold:

Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you are away from it, even for “just a minute.”
Keep valuables out of sight or in the trunk. Purses, credit cards, and cell phones in plain view only help attract thieves.
Always roll up the windows and lock your car, even if it is in your driveway, garage, or in front of your home.
Never leave the vehicle title in your car. If stolen, it makes it easier for the thief to dispose of your vehicle. It can also make you a target for identity theft.
Be alert when approaching your car, have a plan of action, and have your keys in your hand. Check around, under, and in your vehicle for suspicious individuals. Immediately leave the scene to get help if you have any concerns for your safety.
Only park your car in busy, well-lit areas.

Install a mechanical locking device - commonly called a club, collar, or j-bar - that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake.
If your vehicle has an alarm or other anti-theft device, USE IT.


Officer Demin Officer Demin from Prince George's County Police Department

Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.

Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.

Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.

Keep your garage door closed and locked.

Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.

Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.

Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.

Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.

Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.

Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

Don't Tempt a Thief:
Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight
Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
Never leave notes on your door such as “Gone shopping.”

Locks…Get the Best:
No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.

Targeting the Outside:
Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.


Most windows can be pinned for security.
Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.


An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market. Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system — Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.

If Your Home Is Broken Into:

If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
Use a neighbor's phone or cell phone to call police.
Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.

Other precautions you should take:

Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places -- burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Mark your valuables with your driver's license number with an engraver you can borrow from your precinct. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.

Consider installing a burglar alarm system.