Dear PoP – Potential Suspicious Behavior?

Catch a wave
Photo from PoPville flickr user DrCee

“Dear PoP,

I was waiting for the bus on 16th/Newton and noticed a suspicious man on bike sitting on NW corner of 16th St NW and Newton St (3400 block of 16th); sitting in shade, wearing all black (ie not standing out), on bike, for more than 5 minutes. Seems to be scoping out the area.

I didn’t want to confront the guy or call 911 (not an emergency) but can’t think of any other way to report this info. I tried texting 911 but that doesn’t work (not a bad idea though).

any thoughts?”

You can text MPD:

“Text 50411
Community members can now use their cell phones to anonymously text tips to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Give 5-0 the 411 with the new Text Tip Line: 50411. Text messages are monitored by members of the department 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tips are then analyzed and passed on to the appropriate unit or division for follow-up. Because the tip line is anonymous, the sender will not receive a response to the original message.”

It is probably nothing but not a bad idea to always be aware of your surroundings.

38 Comment

  • Dear PoP,

    I was sitting on my bike on the NW corner of 16th and Newton, resting in the shade and waiting for a friend when I noticed a person standing across the street looking around suspiciously for five minutes or more. Seemed to be scoping out the area.

    I didn’t want to confront the guy or call 911, but obviously people standing around doing nothing are dangerous and, if possible, I would have liked for the police to come and harass him a little bit, maybe ask him what he’s doing there or tell him to move along, who should I call?

    • ah

      No kidding – what exactly can the police do when provided a totally anon tip from Twitter? Is that now sufficient for a search? I sure hope not, but maybe in this post 9/11 world . . .

      So what’s left–a slow roll by the guy to see if he runs, which *is* suspicious?

    • And i was watching booth of you and was just about to call the cops. lol.

    • He might have been resting or sitting there just because he wanted to. Just curious, what exactly, other than sitting there for 5 minutes, make this person suspicious?

  • haha comment win.

  • Seriously, why would you post this PoP? I feel like this blog is turning into fear mongering and city bashing non stop. Paranoia runs deep.

  • before the cops come, be sure to ditch whatever drugs you have on you that are making you so paranoid.

  • I understand what some of you are saying, and comment #1 made me laugh.

    On the other hand, I live in this neighborhood. And every once in awhile… people loiter about on street corners for no apparent reason. And that makes me uncomfortable.

  • who cares if it makes you uncomfortable? the point is this person is not doing anything wrong and shouldn’t be made to feel like a criminal in what is probably his own neighborhood.

    get something else to worry about and give people the benefit of the doubt. i think you’ll find life is much more enjoyable if you don’t think the worst of everyone. 90% of the time people are not going to bother you.

    • to each her own. but 3 points

      (1) I know most of my neighbors.

      (2) The street is a residential street.

      (3) Go ahead and trust everyone you see. but that’s not for me. Again, I don’t see the point of three big dudes standing around on a street corner for an extended period of time to be normal behavior. So I will eye them with suspicion.

    • oh how naive can you be. move back to Iowa where there’s no crime.

      I will have everyone know here that when I call the police I have never, EVER been wrong. In two cases I was told over and over and over again that I was paranoid, racist, a yuppie, etc but when the police finally busted the crew they were caught with intent-to-distribute weights of crack cocaine- 2 juveniles and one fully convicted adult.

      In the other case the guy plead guilty to possession to avoid intent-to-distribute and is currently in a drug treatment program.

      So all you haters, I need to remind you, in every case where I called the police and the police came, I was proven right.

      • Neener, it sounds like you have chosen the wrong profession. It sounds like you should become a cop. Or a psychic.

  • It’s not the fact that “90% of the time people are not going to bother you” it’s that 10% or less of the time that someone is waiting to blow someone’s head off, or attack their ex-wife, spray paint gang tags, or commit some other sort of crime.

    So what if the cops come around and slow roll past the guy or girl or ask them what they’re doing? If they have nothing to hide, then no harm done.

    Three cheers for more police presence!

    • “10% or less of the time that someone is waiting to blow someone’s head off, or attack their ex-wife, spray paint gang tags, or commit some other sort of crime.”

      So, 10% of the people I see each day do these activities? My God, I had no idea there was that much crime going on! 50,000 people each day in DC committing some kind of crime at any moment.

      Uh. Maybe it’s a lot less than 10%.

  • I saw the same thing last Spring around 1:30 am or later when I was leaving a party with my boyfriend. We weren’t sure which direction we should be heading on 16th and we stopped to look at the bus directory, I saw the guy on a bike, in all black, on the next corner just watching us. As we proceeded to walk, he started walking on his bike about 30 yards behind us, I noticed him getting closer and I stepped into the street and hailed a cab. As we got in I looked back to see him pedaling up and stop. Not sure what he wanted but I doubt it was directions.

    • Typical mugger or purse-snatcher behavior. My wife’s purse got taken by someone with the exact same M.O. a while back.

  • This was a useful post. I didn’t know about 50411. Seems like a good service.

  • First rule of survival: trust your gut.

    The DC police have told me and I’ve seen it police on list serves, if it doesn’t look right, call the cops and they’ll sort it out.

    My fiance had a man follow her back to our house down the alley and the only reason she even noticed him following her is because she knew he wasn’t a neighbor. He ran off when I opened the back door to greet her.

    Trust your gut, when in doubt call the cops.

    • You are right… trust your gut.

      Trusting, naive people are often the target. I have lived in DC all my life and many times I have seen the “same people” hanging around. I always assume the worst and have never had a problem in the street.

      First remove yourself from the area, and then CALL.

      Casual survey to my neighbors:

      How many of you hang-out on the corner “for no apparent reason?”

      • EXACTLY!

        Here’s my favorite story. I had a friend on a block in Mt Pleasant. I would visit his house and these creeps were out on the sidewalk. He’d tell me, “those guys are cool, they talk to me.” But each time I’d go by they looked worse and worse. One time the guys were yelling at each other “Suck my c**k N*gg** b*tch” to each other in front of children and women, like whoa, way out of bounds and in other cities, I mean they’d get beat up. And the whole entire time, all the months, my friend keeps saying I’m paranoid and that “They’re cool” because they talk to him.

        I see a deal go down, I don’t tell him, I call the police and 12 motherf*ckers get arrested and 2 get brought to trial. If I told that naive jerk one more time about it he’d keep defending them because “They talked to him” or “didn’t give him any trouble.” Well hell that’s no different than a***oles saying the abusive husband “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

        Anyway, if someone is not acting right or is wandering your block and isn’t your friend, call 911 and explain it. If they aren’t committing a crime yet the police will scare them away and hopefully back home with no crime committed. If this reduces, let’s say, 10% of rapes isn’t that a good thing?

        If you don’t call, are you partially responsible for the rape they commit?

  • Just a note – 911 in DC is not just for emergencies, it’s for any call in which you want the police, fire dept or EMS to respond to your location. It may not seem to make a lot of sense, and it goes against what a lot of us were taught as kids, but that’s what DC’s Office of Unified Communications [911] has decided. If you call any other number [311, etc] all they’re going to do is forward you call to 911.

  • Maybe it was this guy scoping out his next rape:

    “He was dressed in all black”

  • I’m with the original poster, wondering wtf the guy is doing, recreational biking, transport and messengers are one thing, but my first guess is he was waiting to break into a car, mug someone or sell dope. The last time we had someone not from the neighborhood acting suspicious he started out walking sloooowly around the block several times, changing direction when someone would come out of their house, and then the capper, started peering intently into people’s cars and jiggling the handles!!! We called police and the guy was never seen on our street again.

  • Maybe it was Johnny Cash’s ghost? Who ya gonna call….Ghost Busters!!!!

  • 911?! For what? Are you being serious?

    Book him for the crime of being suspicious. Oh that’s not a crime? Interesting.

    Call 911?! Puh!

  • what one calls fear, another calls caution. caution has allowed my neighbors, their children and I to live long happy lives in not the best of situations. It’s YOUR neighborhood. most of the time, you know who belongs there and who doesn’t. If something looks weird, it often is. Err on the side of being safe, and protecting your community.

    call 911.
    screw all these hardcore people thinking you are being unreasonable. it’s that kind of thinking that breaks down communities.
    on my block, we call 911, then email or call one another to let them know. if its more serious we all call 911

  • can PoP introduce a feature that automatically deletes any post where people do the 311/911/emergency/non-emergency argument? please?

  • I wounder if the the person you are talking about was thinking the same thing about you, wondering why you were looking at him, and perhaps wondring how to text this to 50411 without being noticed by you.

  • Yes, definitely a good idea to report strangers in the neighborhood or any suspicious behavior. The police can at least check the situation out. No harm in that and if this person was thinking of committing a crime, they would think twice as the police now know who they are.

  • I will jog in motion when waiting for the traffic light to change so as to not arouse suspicion.

  • Hey junior, go back to Iowa where you belong. tell your mommy that all those older people are just too jaded after being mugged for your sensitive tastes.

  • Call 911, state its a nonemergency and give plenty of details on the person and behavior. We get the call and will check it out and make a contact if possible or move that person on if necessary. Its not that big of a deal…we get them all the time.

  • All I have to say is Wow — I had no idea that so many people in my neighborhood constantly live in fear of their neighbors. I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be being constantly suspicious of everyone around you.

  • Psshht. I called the police to report a robbery in progress, and when they turned up 20 minutes later, they acted as if I wasted their time because *obviously* the burglar would be gone by the time they got there. I’m sure they’ll love responding to these sorts of texts.

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