BY GABRIELLE KRATSAS — Hyattsville police recently arrested four men trying to sell stolen televisions in West Hyattsville, and detectives are trying to determine if these suspects are linked to the recent rash of area thefts.
On Oct. 31, officers were responding to yet another residential burglary of TVs, electronics and jewelry when they received a tip that some men were attempting to sell televisions to a barbershop in the 3000 block of Hamilton Street.
Officers and investigators went to the scene and arrested Clarence Jord Kirksey-Walcott of Lanham, Md. and Markeet Tyrone Johnson Jr. of Washington, D.C. for first-degree burglary, while Willie Randolph III of Washington, D.C. and Jerome Anton Jones of Hyattsville were arrested for felony theft.
It was welcome news for residents on edge after the city saw 22 burglaries and one attempted burglary between September 2 and October 20. In Ward 5, residential burglaries are up 33 percent this year, and Ward 4 has seen an increase of 21 percent.
Nearby towns have seen an increase in property crimes, as well. In University Park, police arrested two men early September 12 after causing an extensive police chase, which included about 20 officers from four different jurisdictions, a K-9 and a helicopter. Since then, the daily property crimes there have ended, said Lt. Wayne McCully of the University Park Police Department.
The Hyattsville arrests came “as a result of a positive working relationship between the residents, the community and the police department,” said Sgt. Chris Purvis, public information officer for the Hyattsville police.
Ward 4 Councilmember Paula Perry stressed community involvement as well. “We have an amazing police department and they are great at protecting the community, but they can’t do it on their own.”
In response to the crime surge, both police and residents have become active in raising awareness and communal protection. When the police held a community meeting on October 9 to discuss the burglaries, about 50 neighbors attended. On Halloween night, residents set up tables along the sidewalks in the area to keep watch over trick-or-treaters. They handed out items promoting safety, such as stickers and rulers, and collected signatures for the area’s online listserv (see below).
Purvis stressed that the one thing residents do have control over is not giving the suspect an opportunity to commit a crime. “For example, lock your windows and doors, keep lights on when it’s dark, trim the bushes and shrubs around your house to increase visibility and strengthen the relationship with your neighbors,” he said.
When outside, Perry suggested, “walk with at least one other person, stay in well-lit areas, be aware of your surroundings and if you see anything, call the police,” she said. “The more information we give them, the less that can happen.”
One source of online community listservs is www.groups.yahoo.com. Visit the site and search “H.O.P.E.” (Hyattsville Organization for a Positive Environment); “WestHyattsville” (for Wards 4 and 5); or “UHCA” (the University Hills Area Civic Association, in Ward 3) to join.