Montgomery County Police reported a rash of auto thefts in the Germantown area over recent weeks, many of the thefts were of a specific make and model vehicle.
Police reported seven separate incidents of vehicle thefts in Germantown between Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, October 21, of these incidents five were thefts of Dodge Caravans, the other two were an Acura and a Lexus.
Police believe that they have arrested the man responsible for the thefts of at least one of the Dodge Caravans, and are working to connect him to the other thefts.
Dodge Caravan manufactured between 1998 and 2005 can be easily stolen, because they lack the type of computer chips that are required to start newer vehicles. In fact, all that’s required for thieves to drive the older Caravans is a screwdriver and brute force.
In 2016, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in Des Plaines, Ill, listed the 2002 Dodge Caravan as one of the top ten most stolen vehicle models, with 9,798 Caravans stolen in 2015. Experts suggest that if you own Dodge Caravan, park it in a well-lit area, use a steering wheel lock, or get a good car alarm.
According to Police the first Dodge Caravan was stolen the 13400 block of Staffordshire place sometime between 6:00 pm on Friday, Oct. 20 and approximately 6:00 pm on Sunday, Oct. 22. Police said the ignition was punched with a tool to get the vehicle started.
The next Caravan theft was taken from the 20400 block of Waters Point Lane in Germantown about approximately 12:34 pm on Friday, Oct. 21. This vehicle was recovered later that day on Ambassador Terrace in Germantown.
Another Dodge Caravan was stolen from the 19300 block of Circle Gate Drive between approximately 9:20 am and 6:45 pm on Friday, Oct. 21. According to police, this vehicle was forced open, and the ignition was punched to get it started. It was recovered two days later on Monday, Oct. 23 in the 1500 block of Madison Street in Hyattsville.
Yet, another Dodge Caravan was stolen from the 13500 block of Demetrias Way between approximately 12:00 am and approximately 2:30 pm on Sunday, Oct. 22. Once again, the ignition was punched to get the minivan started.
The last Dodge Caravan theft was taken from the 11400 block of Stoney Point Place in the early morning hours of Monday, Oct. 23. Once again, the ignition was punched with a tool.
Later that day, police arrested James Robert Barbar, 29, of the 18400 block of Stone Hollow Drive in Germantown after he was pulled over while driving one of the stolen Dodge Caravans, according to 5th District Commander Mark Plazinski, who said detectives are investigating to determine if Barbar is responsible for the additional Dodge Caravan thefts. Barbar was arrested and released on bond on Oct. 24.
According to court documents, on Oct. 20, Montgomery County Police also obtained an arrest warrant for James Robert Barbar in connection with the Oct. 10 theft of a 1998 Dodge Caravan from the 12600 block of Red Pepper Court in Germantown. The vehicle was later recovered on Madison Street NW, in Washington D.C. on October 12.
The first non-Dodge Caravan auto thefts occurred in the in the 20900 block of Father Hurley Boulevard between approximately 12:00 pm on Thursday, Oct. 20 and approximately 10:53 am on October 21. Police say a Lexus RX300 was stolen using a key reported to have been left in the vehicle. The Lexus was recovered on Friday, Oct. 21 in the 300 block of Noland Drive in Hagerstown.
Later that same night, between 1:00 am and 8:00 am on Friday, Oct. 21, an Acura TL was reported stolen from the 19200 block of Wheatfield Drive in Germantown. The Acura was reportedly left unlocked with the keys inside. It was recovered from the 22100 block of Watercrest Circle in Germantown on October 28.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.