Archive for February, 2009

Scams Targeting the Elderly

Friday, February 13th, 2009

WBCA received today (February 13) the information noted below, forwarded from the Neighborhood Watch for the nearby Burning Tree community in Bethesda. We note this information, not only because of the specific concern it raises, but also in light of the tragic homicide in our area last September. Regarding that crime, the man charged with the Havenstein murder and three other home invasions (targeting seniors) is scheduled for trial in May. And, finally, regarding an unrelated item but one of obvious concern in our community, the raccoon that bit a child in our neighborhood recently did test positive for rabies – so do remain alert for other suspicious raccoons, foxes, etc.!

Police Investigate a Series of Diversion Scams Targeting Elderly Couples

Detectives from three District Investigative Sections are investigating three incidents of theft diversion scams targeting elderly couples in Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Bethesda. Detectives believe they may be related and committed by the same group of suspects.

In all three incidents, a suspect is dressed in a dark blue uniform and claims to be a government employee. In two of the incidents, he told the victims that their neighbor’s home had a flood and he would need the victims to accompany him to the basement of the home to inspect their water pipes. While the suspect and the victims are in the basement, two additional suspects enter the home and search for cash to steal. In the third incident, the suspect again claimed that a neighbor had a flood, but he wanted to check the water pressure in the victim’s home.

The first two incidents described above occurred on February 3 within an hour of each other. The first incident occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of Stanley Avenue in Rockville. This incident involved an 85-year-old female victim and a 99-year-old male victim. The second incident occurred at approximately 5:00 p.m. in the 4400 block of West Virginia Avenue in Bethesda. This incident involved an 83-year-old female victim and a 90-year-old male victim. The third incident occurred on February 9 at approximately 12:00 p.m. in the 16600 block of South Westland Avenue in Gaithersburg. This incident involved a 72-year-old female victim and an 80-year-old male victim.

The first suspect is described as a Hispanic male, in his 30’s, 5’6″ to 5’8″ tall, with a thin build, and short black hair. He is wearing a dark blue shirt and dark blue pants. He is wearing what appears to be a yellow name badge with a picture. The second suspect is described as a Hispanic male, in his 30’s, with a medium build, and short black hair. He is wearing dark blue clothing. The third suspect is described as white male, in his 50’s, with a heavy build, and gray hair.

Anyone who has information about the thefts and/or the suspects is asked to call the 5th/6th District Investigative Section at 240-773-6237. Callers may remain anonymous.

Health Bulletin: Rabies

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Several residents in the West Bradley community have followed up with advice on rabies prevention after the incident reported, February 4 (potentially rabid raccoon biting school child). Because of the concern that report occasioned, we are sharing some information provided by knowledgeable neighbors as well as recommendations from the Montgomery County Animal Services Division.

One neighbor has stated that there are problems not only with potentially rabid raccoons but also with bat-specific rabies. The advice: If you have a bat in your house, do not attempt to remove it yourself; call animal control. If you think the bat has been in your bedroom while you were sleeping, check for bites. Many people do not realize they have been bitten and can, reportedly, suffer serious illness. Others in our community have reported concern about foxes that have demonstrated unusually aggressive day-time behavior. There is also growing concern due to reports about rabies found in cats in Montgomery County since this shows rabies migrating from the wild animal population to domestic animals.

Montgomery County Animal Services Division: Suggested Steps to Prevent Rabies
• Only approach domestic animals that are known to you.
• Avoid all contact with wild animals.
• Make sure that your dogs and cats have a current rabies vaccination and County license.
• Keep dogs under control or on a leash. Keep cats safely indoors.
• Do not treat raccoons or other wild animals as if they were pets. Do not leave food out for raccoons, including leftover dog food, table scraps and large bird seeds.
• Close off all entrances to chimneys, attics, garages or sheds which can provide a nesting site for raccoons. Install heavy 26-gauge wire screen on chimney openings and flues.
• Use metal garbage cans that have secure lids. Plastic cans should have snap covers, but are not as secure. Ammonia can be sprayed or poured into plastic garbage bags to discourage raccoons from feeding.
• Most human exposures to rabies occur when people attempt to rescue sick or hurt wild animals that, upon testing, are rabid.
• Another frequent indirect exposure occurs when people handle their pets without gloves after the pet has had an encounter with a wild animal. Rabies virus in saliva on the pet’s fur can be transmitted through a break in the person’s skin for up to two hours after the saliva has been deposited on the fur.
• If you see a wild animal exhibiting abnormal behavior, call the Division at 240-773-5960 or 240-773-5925. After hours, call 240-773-5900.
• Avoid all wild and stray animals, especially RACCOONS!

February Update

Thursday, February 5th, 2009


The preliminary plans for the new Seven Locks Elementary School have just been delivered to WBCA and are ready for presentation this month to the Montgomery County Board of Education. (Copy available through WBCA president Sandy Vogelgesang) The existing 30,000 square-foot building is to be razed and replaced by a 67,000 square-foot building including a gymnasium. Energy efficiency was one of the issues emphasized by the Facility Advisory Committee (FAC) of school and community representatives working with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) on the project. The new school will thus be certified for high-level conformance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. The plans reflect FAC emphasis on providing state-of-the art classroom facilities, maintaining maximal green space for recreation on site, and ensuring greater traffic safety via entry-exit on both Seven Locks Road and Bradley Boulevard. If the project is approved by the School Board and funding remains available, the construction drawings will be completed and the building contract will be awarded next year. The new school is scheduled to open in January 2012.


An apparently rabid raccoon attacked a child in the WBCA area (near Honeybee Lane) this morning (February 4) when she was on her way to the school bus stop. She was bitten and taken to the hospital for the rabies protocol. Neighbors contacted the Humane Society which responded quickly and took the raccoon for testing. The preliminary judgment was that the raccoon was probably rabid since it attacked, unprovoked, in daylight and since it appeared sick. Do alert children, in particular, to this incident. Let us know if there are any other comparable incidents. For your reference, the number to call for animal emergencies is 240-773-5900. The general number for Animal Control, the Humane Society and the Animal Shelter is 240-773-5960.