Typically I will do a crime update at the end of the year, though a startling rise in auto crimes is worth a mid-year alert. Glover Park has suffered from record thefts from cars in the past three years, averaging around 40 per year. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has been stymied in figuring out how to reduce these crimes, and now the trouble has gotten far worse. We have had 35 thefts through mid-year 2022, an increase of 119% over this time last year. We are on pace to nearly double the record level of 40 per year.
Total crimes in Glover Park* are up by 12% from last year at this time, largely due to the thefts from cars. In addition, the neighborhood has experienced a troubling uptick in crimes where weapons were used – two robberies using a gun, an assault with a gun, a car theft with a gun, and an assault with a knife. All of the crimes with a gun occurred on the 2300 block of Wisconsin Avenue. Typically the neighborhood will experience zero to two such crime in a given year.
MPD has indicated that there has been a significant rise in thefts of catalytic converters from cars in DC, and Glover Park is experiencing its share. When copper prices ran up over a decade ago, homeowners across the country sometimes came home to missing pipes cut out from under their houses. Now that other precious metals have inflated, thieves are finding “gold” mines in catalytic converters. They contain enough platinum, palladium and rhodium that it is worth a grab to resell them for the scant precious metals inside. Nationwide, catalytic converter thefts quadrupled from 2020 to 2021. The price of palladium, for example, has tripled in the past three years.
Just as a thief can smash-and-grab from a car in a matter of seconds, a skilled catalytic converter thief can walk away with one in under a minute with a battery-powered hand-held circular saw. Such a theft can get them $250 from a scrapyard, while it could cost the car owner $2000-$4000 to replace it, if they can even find a repair shop that has any spares in stock. According to the Washington Post, the Prius is a prime target because it has two catalytic converters and is less prone to corrosion than all-gas cars. Fox News reported that other popular targets are: Ford F-series pickup, Honda Accord, Jeep Patriot, Chevy Silverado, Ford Econoline, and Honda CRV. Presumably, the ground clearance on some of these other targets makes them easy pickings.
All but four of the thefts from automobiles this year in the ANC3B zone have occurred in front of commercial or multi-family buildings or in their parking lots. Fortunately, protecting your car is fairly easy if you are proactive. A common fix is to weld two pieces of rebar to the car’s frame around the catalytic converter. It won’t stop a thief if they really want it, but cutting through will take 5-7 minutes with a typical handheld saw rather than 1 minute, so likely they will pass you by for easier targets. Hopefully that promise by Mayor Bowser to add 347 police officers to the roster will result in at least one more for Second District and increased patrols through Glover Park.
* Note that crime stats include all of ANC3B, which includes part of Cathedral Heights to the north of Glover Park.