Dear PoP – Why So Many Car Windows Smashed on Florida Ave near Cardozo HS?

DSCN0537, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

New to the neighborhood. Can’t help but notice how many cars have been broken into along Florida Ave. between 11th and 13th along the south wall of Cardozo. As well as on 11th Street, just to the east of Cardozo. I walk this way every morning to work, and invariably, one or two cars have had their back or front windows shattered. Take a walk down Florida. Window glass is everywhere. Does anyone have any idea whether it’s students or who the culprits may be? Seems unusual the number of break ins, but maybe I’m just being naive to the extent of crime in the neighborhood.”

Holy cow, I walked across Florida Ave and there were at least 8 different spots with broken windows. I get word of the occasional car break in but I’ve never seen so many so closely clustered. Anyone care to speculate? Do people simply leave items in their car in this area? Do you think it’s students?

If I had to guess I’d say it was probably thieves rather than vandals. Has anyone had their car broken into at this spot? Can you confirm if anything was stolen? Notice any other streets in town that have frequent clustered window smashings?

Some more photos of different spots after the jump.





15 Comment

  • On the 13th side of Cardoza, people have been putting screws from construction sites into the sidewallls of car tires. Lovely.

  • I ride my bike back home from work on Fl Ave and also noticed too many broken car windows. My guess is that part is not a busy street, there may not be a single pedestrian for hours during afternoons so whoever is doing it knows that they got a lot of time to do their business.

    The other street that I noticed with a lot of smashed windows is 1st St NW, right across from Washington hospital where the McMillan sand filtration plant’s fences are. It’s also a quite street with no houses on both side of the street and no foot traffic.

  • I used to live on 12th Pl NW. Over the year I lived there, I parked on that stretch of Florida maybe 10 times and got the car broken into 3 times (they popped the lock, rather than break the window). Interestingly, I never saw a single car broken into on 12th Pl during the entire time I was there.

    This is an easy block for crime. There are almost no homes that front Florida on those 2 blocks and it is very easy to see cops coming well before they can see you.

  • I’m surprised because police / fire / ambulances use Florida frequently to get across the city.

  • I parked my car in an underground parking garage in Columbia Heights, and it got broken into twice in a month (May-June 09), along with 3 other cars each time (including one that belonged to a police officer). The garage is located on Holmead Place, and I DO NOT recommend it. It was cheap for underground parking ($100/month), so you get what you pay for. I now park at the Park Triangle Apts garage (paying twice as much), but it’s much more secure with cameras, two layers of secure entry/exit points, and it’s very well lit. I just think it totally sucks to have to pay for parking in your own neighborhood…that’s city life for you, I guess.

  • I actually saw a car being broken into just north of Florida on 13th and called the police. At the time, the guy was still inside the car rumaging around. The police never did come. Now when the same thing happens to my car and I think, “Seriously, no one heard the sound of breaking glass? No one saw it littering the ground?”, I remember the time that I did call, and nothing was done about it. Mostly it’s a crime of opportunity, but I think the perpetrators also know, that they can break in with impunity. Nothing ever seems to be done about it.

  • We lived on the 2200 block of 12th Street (between W and Florida) for about three years. During that time, we had two break-ins — one on the north side of Florida between 12th Street and 12th Place and one almost directly across the street from the house on 12th Street. The wall that runs below Cardozo and the line of cars parked along Florida provides quite a bit of protection for a snatch and grab. The vandalism aspect is almost more disturbing though.

    Speaking of break-ins, in our new location (three blocks west of the Petworth Metro), we had our first break in just a couple weeks ago. The car was parked in the driveway at night, and someone rifled through the center console and glove box. They got away with nothing — as there was nothing of value in the car — and there were no windows broken. They did remove the fusebox cover near the floor on the driver’s side, but no fuses were taken, and there was no damage to the steering column. Odd. Our neighbor had almost the exact description when his car was tossed during the same week.

    Two questions:

    1) My neighbor and I assume both of our cars were locked — what are the non-window breaking options at that point? Slim Jim? Keyless entry device?

    2) Anyone have any idea what they were after with the fuse box? Fuses? Air bags? An attempt to start the car without the key?

    Bonus question: anyone know of a fencing/garage-door contractor that will install a remote operated overhead door to close off my drive from the alley?

  • I also live near the Petworth metro. My car was parked on Rock Creek Church Rd. last Friday night and someone broke into it using a screw driver/hammer to turn the door lock. It looked like they first tried to break in through the window but were unsuccessful (they pulled a panel off the side of the window and pulled it out of it’s track).

    Nothing was taken but they were trying to steal the car. When I found it the paneling around the steering column was littering the floor of the car. They had taken the hammer/screw driver to the ignition and it was so beat up it looked like someone had blasted it with a shot gun. There was no longer a hole, just metal peeling away from the hits.

    The guy who towed my car said they damaged it so badly they couldn’t have driven it away even they had hot wired it because at this point the steering wheel was locked in place (which would require turning the ignition to unlock).

  • Where is there an underground lot on Holmead?

    Ian, my guess re: the fuse box is that it was some dumb kids thinking there was a button in there marked “hotwire”.

  • You only need $10 to buy a hit of crack or heroin.

  • My girlfriend’s car was broken into last month over on 11th street alongside Cardozo HS. We now know not to park on that dimly-lit, low-traffic area. I also *never* park along Florida at the south end of Cardozo because there is ALWAYS broken glass there. Unfortunately, it looks like the thieves have become more brazen and are now doing smash & grabs on 13th–my roommate’s truck was broken into recently.

  • Advice I heard about some time ago. If you live close enough, put in a baby monitor transmitter, so you can hear the glass smash while you’re home sleeping. Pick up the phone, call the police, and let them know there is a robbery in progress. If only they’d come! Turns out, you’d likely just lose your baby monitor too….what a great city!

  • Break ins in the area happen all the time. Very frequent in my dog walk area between 10th, W, 13th and V. Especially W St between 10th and 12th.

  • Welcome to DC. I live in Adams Morgan near 16th and Columbia and have had the following happen to my cars over the 5 years that I have lived in the neighborhood:

    1) My 1991 Honda Civic was stolen. I reported it to the DC police, nothing happened and I had given up on ever getting it back only to find upon return from Christmas vacation a letter from the DC police saying that my car was in an impound lot. I had to pay $300 to get my stolen car back. Frickin’ ridiculous!

    2) The battery of the same car was stolen. I’m guessing it was drug-related because how much is a frickin’ battery worth?

    3) I had a rental car parked on Harvard Street that had a window smashed in and the lovely folks who had done that had put the hazards on (I believe in hopes that it would drain the battery).

    4) My current car (2006 Honda Civic) was parked on Harvard between 14th and 15th and some lovely individual slashed my tire and the tires of about 10 other cars parked on the same block.

    Again, welcome to DC!

  • I have a solution to guard yourself against car damage/break in: underground, secured parking! Sorry, shameless self-promotion.

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