Close to 50 Hyattsville residents gathered at St. Matthew's Parish on Nicholson Street last night to hear how city police are responding to a series of residential burglaries in the western and southern sections of the city.
The meeting started off with a review of recent citywide crime statistics presented by city Police Chief Doug Holland.
Overall, crime in Hyattsville is down by a large margin across all categories over the past five years. Last year, the city saw a nearly 14 percent reduction in total crime. Through the first nine months of this year, the city has seen a 10.6 percent reduction in crime.
But over the last nine months, it's not the same story in wards four and five when it comes to residential burglaries. Where burglaries have reduced over the last nine months in wards one, two and three, residential burglaries have increased during that that time by 21 percent and 33 percent in wards four and five, respectively.
Solving those burglaries presents a challenge to law enforcement officers, according to Detective Zach Nemser of the Hyattsville City Police Department. Unlike in a robbery, most burglars commit their crimes while no one is around who might later be able to provide a description of a suspect. Much of the time, the only way the police can crack a burglary case is by tracking down the stolen property itself and working backwards from there to determine who stole it.
Nemser, on hand at the meeting to discuss the investigations into recent robberies across the city. His presentation highlighted two clusters of residential burglaries committed since Aug. 1 which police think might be connected to two individuals.
Police believe one cluster of six burglaries reported since August in the Northwood Apartments (formerly the Ager Road Station apartments) may be connected to a single individual, 19-year-old District Heights resident Antwan Demetrius Ingram, who police said sold stolen property from at least one of the burglaries at an area pawn shop.
Ingram has not yet been arrested in connection with the burglaries.
Another cluster of burglaries reported since August, this time located at the University Town Center apartments near the Prince George's Plaza Metro Station, may also be connected to another individual, 26-year-old Hyattsville resident Dexter Jamal Trimble, according to Nemser.
Trimble is currently behind bars, and Nemser said that police are working to charge him with dozens of burglaries in UTC and outside the city in the Toledo Terrace area.
Police distributed a wanted poster bearing Ingram's and Trimble's picture at the meeting and instructed residents to call police if they spotted the men in their neighborhood.
Nemser suggested that residents photograph their valuables and record any serial numbers for items, especially high tech gadgets. That could aid police in identifying stolen property if it is recovered later.
But those aren't the only burglaries concerning residents. Police said that other burglaries in West Hyattsville may not be connected.
Sgt. Chris Purvis, public information officer for the Hyattsville City Police Department, encouraged residents to take additional precautions to secure and document their valuables.
Purvis also encouraged residents to reach out to the city police department whenever they come across a suspicious person or incident.