Dear PoP – If You See Something, Say Something

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

“Dear PoP,

What is wrong with people these days?!? Seriously! I am so completely disheartened with people as I write this story. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this city, but after last week I am really disappointed in the people of this city. I met up with two friends at a tattoo shop near the corner of 14th and U streets, NW. It was a Thursday night and the streets are pretty well lit and populated. I chain my bike to a tree right in front of the shop. As we are leaving, I say to my friends jokingly “Hope no one steals my bike!” As I say this a guy walks by and says, “Oh if it isn’t chained up they totally will.” I reply with “My bike is such a POS, who would bother to take the time?” He says “Once as a test I left two really old rusty bikes, one with flat tires out front of this shop just to see. The bikes were gone in under 5 minutes. They will take the bike too if it isn’t locked up.” Well I know this, that’s why my bike is chained to the tree. So I thank the guy and assure him it is locked and we head down a couple blocks to grab some grub.

Less than 2 hours later we return to the tree and my bike is GONE! All that is left is my bike lock…still locked but sliced in two as if it were butter, mocking me on the ground. I picked it up and my two friends and I start laughing at the irony of it all. One of my friends offers to drive me home and as we walk around the corner of U to 14th, what do I see? Some asshole sitting on my bike not even half a block down 14th. Before my friends even knew what was up I am running at the kid who doesn’t see me coming. I shove him off my bike and then a tirade of swear words that would make a sailor blush burst out of my mouth. The guy is so shocked he sort of just stands there still half on my bike. I grab the handle bars and say THIS IS MY BIKE! He has the audacity to tell me it is HIS bike. Then I tell him he is a POS that stole my bike after cutting my lock. His reply of “I didn’t steal no bike.” has me so convinced of his innocence…riiiiight. So then he tries to climb back on the bike at which point I again shove him off and bombard him with more curses.

As I walk off with my bike and my friends back around the corner to U, I notice he has the nerve to start following us. So again I turned around and screamed at him. This time telling him to stop following us or I will call the cops because I have all night to waste, but does he?!? I guess he decides he does not because he crosses 14th and heads the other direction.

Now as excited that I am that this guy is an idiot who stole a bike then stuck around, and as excited as I am that I got my bike back, WTF people?!? Why did no one do a damn thing the entire time? First the bike was stolen in good light, on a busy street where tons of people were walking around. Why did no one do a thing! And then when I was screaming pretty loudly at some asshole who stole my bike, everyone just stood there?!? How come no one bothered to ask if I needed help or anything? How come a small woman who is only 5’2, was not offered any type of assistance? Yes, my friends (a guy and another small woman) would have jumped in had there been a problem, but where was everyone…anyone else?”

137 Comment

  • Because when you see two people yelling at each other on a DC street, especially if one is the kind of petty thug that would steal a bike, you always ALWAYS assume one of them has a gun. And you get nowhere near it. Whenever I see two chuckleheads start getting into it on the sidewalk, I cross to the other side.

    • This. You don’t know whether the kid will have a gun, and you can’t expect strangers to risk their lives for a POS bike. I wouldn’t have gone after someone with MY bike, let alone someone I don’t know.

  • Sorry you had to go through this. I wonder the same thing myself. Half the problem with crime here in DC is that no one says/does anything and just accepts it. I promise I (and many others) won’t though – actually I am kind of excited for the opportunity to scuff up some punk (as long as I am bigger than them). If I was worried about the person being armed or looking for a fight, I would at least go around the corner and call 911 and give them a full description.

    • “Half the problem with crime here in DC is that no one says/does anything and just accepts it.”

      No, the problem with crime here in DC is that we have a juvenile justice system that is 100 percent broken.

  • Talk to Big White. It would be interesting to note the difference in response you might get from the younger vs. older folk in DC as it relates to sitting on stolen property. You might have been wrong to accuse him of the actual theft, maybe he was just sitting on stolen property and didn’t know it.

    • I love when people use completely irrational reasoning to justify crime and claim ignorance or stupidity as an excuse. Maybe he “didn’t know it”… how many normal people do you know just walk down streets and hang out on other people’s bikes? Stop making excuses and start speaking up. Bottom line – do the right thing.

    • That’s incredibly naive, bordering on stupid. Even if the guy has a bike he just got from the real culprit, he’s got no right to it. No way this hypothetical thief’s friend is as naive/stupid as you, and at the very least he has a clue that the bike was ill gotten.

    • who’s big white?

  • It’s amazing how the punk kids run this town like that. How disgraceful.

    Wierd post timing PoP, I was just moments ago thinking earlier that the cops should do a bike-theft-sting and leave bikes with GPS locators for the kids to steal, don’t tell them, and monitor the movement of the bikes over time. What a story it might tell, but man, what a waste of time!

  • I would have called the cops. Seriously.

  • Everyone was waiting to “jump in had there been a problem”, you know, like your friends.

  • Now that the mine in Chile is vacant, time to send some of our DC criminals down there to cool their heels for awhile.

  • OP must be high. This is a city, not Pleasantvilee. If you “see something,” CALL THE EFFING POLICE, but don’t “say something” unless you want to get knifed or shot over a stranger’s business. Or don’t listen to me; I’m sure your parents/children/lover/friends will be so proud at your funeral.

    But this reminds me of a funny story. It was 2005, about 11:00 at night and I’m in my kitchen and I hear something break loudly. I look out my window and see some jackass has just broken the banister off my back porch to take my very securely locked bike. We make eye contact, he smiles. I shout, grab a 10″ chef’s knife, and go flying out the backdoor. He leaves the bike and bolts over the fence like a rabbit. I call the cops because I was a renter at the time and the guy had done some serious damage to the porch. They come, fill out the report I needed to give to my landlord, and then proceed to give me a 15 minute lecture about how I was the dumbest person in the city to go after a thief like that.

  • What did you expect the people to do? Get together and give him a group beat down? You do realize that these kids have guns, don’t you? Consider yourself lucky that he didn’t call his friends and beat the heck out of you or worse.

  • As a general rule, police will tell you not to confront criminals. Luckily for you, things worked out. But you could have been seriously injured. You can fault anyone who saw your bike lock being sawed off for not calling the police. You can’t fault anyone – even your friends – for not putting their life on the line to retrieve your bike.

  • Ignorance is no excuse for not knowing the law… Same goes for street smarts. If you lock up a bike with a flimsy lock and then walk blocks away from it (in any city) its vulnerable to someone who needs or wants it more than you. Yeah its wrong, but its life. If you want to leave you bike somewhere and then find it untouched, perhaps move to Mayberry. Even Beaver’s bike got stolen once on an episode. That’s life.

    Stop blaming the city for your stolen bike and grow more street smarts… Sorry to be so blunt, but you’ll possibly save your own life one day, and that of your bike’s, by being less confrontational, more cautious, and much more thoughtful (in advance of leaving your bike somewhere) next time. Peace Be With You.

    • Yeah, your “street smarts” have turned this city into a third world shithole. Stop claiming to be so damn cool and smart, when what you really are is desensitized and numb.

  • Why not deal with DC’s feral youth the same way we deal with any other infestation of feral pests? Trap ’em (bikes and iPhones make great bait, BTW), then “snip-snip,” and finally, release ’em into an environment in which they can flourish without causing further problems (like, say, the French Foreign Legion). Just a thought.

    • Dude you are an idiot…and the sad part is that you dont see anything wrong with your comments.

    • safe to say that wasn’t a serious suggestion. Just because you say you’d like to drop these punks in boiling urine doesn’t mean you *really* want to do it. it’s just satisfying to daydream about that kind of retribution.

      and no, I don’t see anything wrong with Mister Fed Up’s comments – or mine (clearly). so, feh!

      • safe to say neither you or Mister Fed Up have ever witnessed someone that wouldve fallen into this “feral teens” classification at one point in time turn themselves around and have a positive impact on his/her community…so whether it was serious or not, I have to agree that Mr Fed Up’s comment and yours(clearly) are idiotic.

        • So we’ll see if, when you personally become a victim of crime, you’ll be so generous. When a group of punks is ransacking your home, stealing you scooter, or pissing on your beaten-to-a-pulp face as they dance and laugh around you, just smile and remind yourself that maybe, just maybe, one of these good, young citizens will turn himself around one day.

          Gosh, I got a warm fuzzy just thinking about it!
          And to answer your accusation, yes I DO personally know people like you describe. Still I somehow have the opinion that I’d like to kick punks like this in the nuts.

          • Sucks that that happened to you…but thats your grudge not mine…im not defending anyone here but making, and agreeing with, such comments makes you look foolish (in my eyes at least)…regardless of whether such retribution is only a wet dream of yours or not…

          • I never said any of that happened to me. I just doubt that you’ll a heart full of love and hope for these bastards if you personally become a statistic.

            And I don’t have a personal grudge against anybody. I just hate this thug-punk bullsh-t and it makes me very angry.

            Watching you back pedal was pretty funny, though! Thanks for that.

        • That happens with about 1% of cases. The life expectancy of these thugs is about 40. They will be in the big house sooner or later. No education + a near certain criminal record = wards of the state, either in prison or on the dole.

          • @Steve b/c you are clearly an esteemed statistician I will take your estimate as a fact and not ask for figures to back up your claim…you’re right lets get rid of everyone between the age of 13-19. They have no chance anyhow….

      • So the same person that makes it seem as though the reason behind his off base comments was b/c he was victimized in his home, all of a sudden wasnt actually victimized in his home. In fact, he has no more basis to make his off base comment than anybody else. Lol yea ok.

        Proverbs 26:7 “The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.”

    • Excellent troll. You hooked quite a few with that one. 9/10.

    • Drop them about 20 miles off Ocean City. If they can swim back to shore they can live.

  • sneaky pete, thank you for the only salient post on here. to ultimately blame this on anything other than poverty — or to say sending people into a mine shaft (or busted prison system) will “cool their heads” — is clearly intolerant. when we hear about these things we only ought to be reminded even more about how many people can’t find employment/provide for themselves and their children.

    • I find this compassionate attitude a lot more common with people who live in the suburbs and safe neigborhoods.

    • This is the stupidest comment written on PoP in months (and that’s saying something). Intolerant? “It’s intolerant to blame stealing on anything but poverty?” Are you f**king kidding me?

      I grew up poor. I also grew up not stealing. And I knew that if I stole something, even if I didn’t go to jail, my parents would have beaten me senseless. Poverty may contribute to the mix that makes a criminal, but it is condescending to poor people to suggest their poverty makes them unethical, uncivilized animals who are incapable of being anything other than criminals–and that’s exactly what your comment suggests.

      • +1000. I grew up poor too. didn’t steal bikes, rob, rape or do drugs. I went to school, studied, worked hard and basically made something of myself. I have zero sympathy for punks like this who aren’t stealing because they *need* to or so they can afford to eat.

        Please leave your liberal guilt at the door and quit making excuses for these POS’s.

        • I grew up in a lower middle class blue collar family. Among my relatives there were those who did drugs, were alcoholics, got STDs, had teen pregnancies, children with several different men out of wedlock, went bankrupt, lived with their parents into their 30s and served time on welfare. My mom has been receiving checks from the state of CT and my grandfather for two decades.

          While all of that may not be as bad as being in housing projects my sister and I didn’t use it as an excuse to be fuck ups. We decided that “we don’t want to be like these people.” We did well in school then got student loans to go to college and make something of ourselves. I worked 32 hours per week in High School and 20 hours per week in college too…

          The idea that people who make bad choices should not be accountable – especially when the choices are to steal, assualt, and sell drugs – is ridiculously lame.

    • I stand by my “throw the criminals into the Chilean mine” comment. There’s room down there now! It would be environmentally irresponsible to not put the space to good use, since the escape-proof infrastructure is already there.

    • GR…When they are stealing from you, victimizing you, and making you feel unsafe where you sleep… Do you think you will have a choice about how you feel? It’s a terrible feeling… and not a feeling that you choose.

      Poverty is not a choice, but CRIME IS A CHOICE.

      There are poor people who live honestly and there are poor people who steal.

      The former get my pity…and deserve every dollar of support the government can provide. If this were another country, the later would have their hands chopped off.

      Please don’t turn to someone who has been victimized by the criminal decisions of another man and tell them “Your hatred is intolerant.”

      You simply sound like you haven’t felt the pain of losing your hard earned property.

    • wow GR, if saying that these punks need to be sent to jail is insensitive then chalk me up as an insensitive person.

  • Here’s how this sort of thing looks on camera:

    • Wait a minute I thought these brazen criminal acts only happened in DC? Are you telling me there are bad people in other cities and towns?

    • This is why “nobody steps up and says/does anything.” Because it takes 25 seconds to steal your bike. It’s not like the guy is going up there with an angle grinder and working on your lock for 10 minutes.

    • great video. just wondering aren’t the U locks unbreakable? Because he only broke through chains?

      • U locks are pretty good, but that rotating saw thing he used will defeat anything on the market.

      • That’s why it’s worth investing in one of the locks that has some sort of guarantee that it can’t be cut and registering the bike/lock. If nothing else, you can finagle some money out of the lock company when the lock gets chopped off like a paper link.

  • What kind of lock did you have? From your description did it look like the tool to break it was on the kid? Asking b/c my friends here in CH said they had their bike stolen with a good lock twice in the last 2 months from the metro stop. Nobody said anything then either and she says it was a sturdy lock. She rides to metro to avoid using a car. At least she used to.

    Sorry. Sometimes the acceptance of these type of crimes makes this city suck.

  • I have had 2 scooters stolen ($6,000), my girlfriend’s scooter ($2,700), they also smashed her car window ($460) and took her GPS($100). All of this in 6 months, all in the 4th district. Some of these crimes happened when there were certainly neighbors watching. One was stolen from 16th and Columbia for Christ’s sake.

    It is clear that there is a pervasive subculture in DC that tolerates crime against property. In fact, if you come upon something that isn’t nailed down with a name tag on it… you are stupid NOT to take it… at least that is what thieves are telling themselves and each other.

    Sadly they aren’t that far off the mark… Because, this city has created an environment that attaches NO CONSEQUENCES to trying to steal something. This is in part because MPD isn’t proactively baiting and bagging thieves, but also (and maybe more so) because people who see/know these thieves are indifferent, scared, or permissive to the immorality of theft.

    In this case, even though our Original Poster found his bike a block away… He could just as easily have lost it had he not been so tenacious.

    I know that it is a complete pain in the ass… but the police department needs to figure this out. The honest citizens are being bled by the thefts. I was ready to put roots down, but now I want out…Why stay and suffer the crime of NYC and have only half the fun?

    But here I am, paying 6 dollars a day now to ride the metro, while paying the lease for a vehicle that some asshole is riding (or has stripped and sold for meth/crack).

    What can you do to help? How about something like this:
    (The following is a very very true story that happened yesterday)
    Last night, around 11:00 I heard someone toiling with a neighbors car outside my window… So I opened the blinds from the 2nd floor and saw 2 men, one with a long hanger probe messing around with the window of a parked SUV. So I opened my window, saying, (as nicely as possible) “Excuse me…Is that your car?”

    As it turns out, IT WAS… and the man with the probe was a legit locksmith helping a woman get the keys out of the car. Still, I went to bed happy that at least I had SAID something, and hopefully my neighbor felt reassured that her neighbor was protecting her property.

    • Sorry to hear about your thefts…but two questions:

      You leased a scooter? (I didn’t even think they did this)

      The leasing company did not require that you have full coverage insurance protecting against total loss/theft?

      • I had insurance for the last one that was stolen, yes…
        but that coverage only goes so far as my MSRP… So I financed and insured for 3700 (after you factor in all the costs for taxes tags freight and insurance)

        THEN it gets stolen

        Lets ignore that it takes about a month and a half for the insurance company to investigate and complete a claim… lets ignore the fact that I am now paying $60 a week to ride the god-awful metro.

        I lose a lot of money even with insurance coverage.

        They only cover the MSRP of the bike ($2,500) Less the deductible. So from my most recent loss they covered 2250.

        So for the next 4 months I’m paying to be squared away with the finance group.

        In the meantime… you and I (and everyone else) has to pay a higher premium to insurance companies, because of the theft going on out there.

        • That sucks. I am sorry you have to deal with it.

          I looked out of our 3rd story window last summer and saw to fellas walking one of our scooters across the street after they had cut the lock. I chased them, they dropped the scooter. I ran back and got into my truck and chased them down the block (they were too fast for me on foot..getting old) but I only caught one of them. Lucky for me, MPD was literally driving down the road as I chased after them and pointed towards them. One arrest was made.

          This was all at 12th/11th and Clifton.

          We upgraded to the large heavy chain locks with small U locks at the end and haven’t had a problem since. I think they just move on to an easier lock that will take them less time.

          Our original lock was a cable with metal rings as armor…they cut through it in seconds with a good bolt cutter (which I found later that day behind my carport).

          • Yeah. We now use a Heavy duty lock through the back wheel and a U lock through the front. We just leave the U lock attached to the gate at our APT.

            I’ve definitely learned the hard way: If it isn’t locked, it is gone.

  • I would have called the cops too, just for good measure. Get them rolling in case the situation escalated. Confronting a criminal with your stolen property can be dangerous, but I think I would have done the same thing. Good on ya for stepping up to the punks in this city. Us law abiding citizens need to stand our ground at some point, or the punks will take over…

    I don’t think any reasonable person would give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know he was on a stolen bike.

    And to those who want to blame the system:

    Not all the punks in this city come from poor families.

  • As someone else mentioned…you are angry at everyone for not stepping in when your own friends were playing the background? Everyone standing around gets a pass but your male friend? I feel like something is missing here. Why dont you tell us why you are REALLY upset.

  • Why would you assume that anyone else seeing this situation would presume that you’re in the right? How would they know you weren’t trying to scam that kid’s bike by claiming he stole it from you? If I saw the situation, I wouldn’t know who was right and who was wrong.

    • This was what I was thinking. If I saw some girl (of any height) run at a guy sitting on a bike and shove him off it, my first reaction certainly wouldn’t be to help the girl take the bike from the guy. If I were her friend and knew the context, then I would certainly console her afterwards, but she seems to have expected more.
      I can imagine the adrenaline of the situation may have led to her risky actions, but I can’t see her justification in faulting bystanders (and not only that, being “disappointed in the people of this city”)!
      -bike theft victim

  • I generally agree with the comments about the ridiculous culture of tolerating crime by kids in this city, but…

    expecting strangers to make a snap judgment on what is really going on and step into a situation like this is pretty crazy. put yourself in a stranger’s shoes – you come upon two people screaming at each other, tussling over a bike, I don’t care what they look like if you have half a brain you are going to cross the street. maybe call the police while crossing, but you’re certainly not going to hop in the middle and try to be Judge Judy to mediate the dispute.

    • I agree with what others have said about it being unrealistic to have expected others to help you. Aside from the uncertainty of the situation, why would someone risk their own safety for a stranger’s piece of property that’s worth less than $100? If the guy was beating you up or trying to kidnap your child, yeah, then you would hope someone would intervene but here it’s just not worth it. That’s not just being selfish, it’s being rational that your own safety is worth more than $100.

  • My introduction to DC was getting my bike seat stolen one day after locking my bike with 2 U locks in our condo’s basement bike corral. I don’t ride my bike since moving here for 2 reasons…1) crazy drivers 2) too much trouble to secure it to anything. I’d rather walk.

    I understand your anger and I’m sorry about your bike. I’m glad you are OK.

  • It’s not the cops, it’s the city council.

  • Um, I don’t want to get a cap in my ass over your POS bike? Props for getting it back, though, ballsy.

  • A few months ago I was riding my bike home with my dog in the basket in back. A bunch of 8-10 year old kids rode up and circled me, ran their wheels into my bike (I’d stopped riding by this point), yelled curse words at me and pretended to hit my dog. In another world I would have freaked out and yelled, but I stayed calm for some reason. Got off my bike, grabbed one of the kids by the neck of his shirt, and calmly said, “I teach kids your age every day. They don’t treat me like crap because I don’t treat them like crap. If you keep treating people like crap, you’ll feel like crap for the rest of your life. So stop cursing, get on your bikes, and go home to your Mommies.” Then I got on my bike and left. I think I shook for like 4 hours after that, but it was the best moment of my life so far! They just stood there and stared, and let me ride away. I can only hope I made some sort of impact, but who knows. (Now if they were teenagers or older, I don’t know what the hell I would have done!!)

  • Bravo and congrats to you for getting you bike back!

  • I’m sorry but the OP here is nuts to expect some sort of intervention. By her own description of events, any outside observer would have seen her blindside someone sitting on a bike while screaming curse words at him, then shove him off again when he tried to climb back onto the bike while continuing to curse him out. Good for her for getting her bike back from the thief, but how the heck is anyone but her supposed to know who is in the right in that situation? Are we supposed to assume that she must be in the right because she’s a 5’2″ women and the guy on the bike is a young (and, reading between the lines, black) man?

    (And, as others have pointed out, what exactly were these observers that didn’t have her back supposed to do, beat the snot out of the kid on her say-so?)

  • Are you sure it was your bike?

    See, thats the question I would be asking if I were a bystander.

    I’m actually really curious, are you sure? They did make more than one of those you know…

  • dear OP,

    you kick ass. it sucks someone stole your bike and that no one helped you.
    it also sucks that you were a victim of a crime, did something about it, but people are all pissy and judgmental about your reactions. we’d all be ticked off if we were in that situation. you did what you did. you’re upset about what you’re upset about. fuck the people knocking you down.

    • agreed.. The only thing I would have done differently was to hold that asshole thief down and ask someone to call the cops. And send his ass to jail.

    • Chimps rock! DC police can’t even keep up with the kids with guns, are they going to devote serious resources to bike theft? It seems they are more interested in writing moving violations for speeding. Bike theft may actually increase sales tax revenue?! Anyway, it’s up to us to start implanting secret tracing GPS locators in our fancy rides to map their ultimate destinations and bring ’em down wholesale! Yeah Right!

      • I wish there was some sort of mercenary/vigilante group that you could call up to reposes stolen property. Even if I found out where my stuff ended up, I’d be afraid to show up and say, “Hey, I think you got confused and took my shit…”

        Whoever creates the layman GPS Tracker bug to be attached to ANYTHING and view the location online (Also records a history of where the thing went)…will probly get a billion dollars.

  • I would never have helped this person, I would have thought she was insane for cursing and yelling and assaulting someone on the street. That is hardly civilized, and to someone who doesn’t know what is going on doesn’t look great. Imagine if a guy went up and pushed around a girl — I think things would have played out a lot differently. This person is insane to think that others are going to blindly help her when she is obviously out of control.

  • Pablo Raw

    I checked the locks catalog at a bike store once, and they were describing how long it took a theft to break each brand of lock; the times were from 11 to something like 40 seconds… the story is long, but when my bike was stolen long ago the guy who did it, sold it to another person in minutes! so maybe that’s why this guy was saying that the bike was his.. maybe.

  • Did you yell “help” or just yell. I have interupted enough heated discussions between “friends” and been told to mind my own business by both parties. If you need help, yell “Help”, someone will come.

  • I agree, some of the people in this city are disguesting. What we need is a better economy to speed up gentrification again in this city. Then, at least, you won’t have little thugs running around stealing bikes like this.

  • me

    Everyone says to call the police. I have called the police (along with my building manager) while a robbery of bikes was in progress, as someone broke into our shared garage and started to mess with bike locks. When they finally came out, we were belittled for wasting their time. Oh, and I live one block from 14th and U.

  • OP, you got some serious balls! I admire your bravery, but, people reading this, please just call the police if something like this happens to you. Your life is much more important than a bike, wallet or an iphone. You never know what these thugs carry around.

  • I once saw a man beating a woman on a public street in Southeast. I pulled my car over and called the police. The woman is probably still thinking no one did anything.

  • Was it Michelle Rhee?

  • I can’t believe PoP bothered posting this.

  • oh wow, someone with a pair of actual working balls!! this gives me hope for the day when the rest of the DC victims might actually grow their own and stop taking it like a bunch of pansy bitches.

    • Agreed. Call the cops .. really? Does anyone really think thast’s the right/usefeul thing? Stand up for yourselves hippies.

      • Anyone who thinks calling the cops will accomplish anything has never been a crime victim. All they will do is waste your time and make it out to be your fault. Instead of coming out of the experience having lost a bike and feeling like a victim, you’ll come out of the experience having lot a bike and an hour of your time and feeling like a worthless fool as well as a victim.

        • +1

          I did not believe this until I had a road-rager assault me and the cops tried to persuade me to drop the charge AFTER I pushed them to act by calling in the tags and having two witnesses call the cops while the assault was in progress. This guy was a Xavier b-ball player, but he and his thug-wannabe buddies were not poor, disadvantaged or oppressed. Someone suggested it might be roid-rage. The cops were mostly interested in telling me it was my fault.

          They went to trial but caved when I showed up and had a witness.

          • Oh, the police HATE it when you report road rage. Last year I was driving with someone who was subjected to a violent road rager. She was elderly and the road rager screamed some particularly nasty things at her, including threats of physical assault, that had her scared to death.

            I told her it was not worth calling the police over but she did it anyway. When the police finally showed up they accused her of wasting their time and made her feel like dirt. Apparently they have much better things to do in Springfield, VA than go after violent people who threaten little old ladies

  • Kudos to the OP for defending what’s right.

    We as citizens should enact a ZERO tolerance mindset for dealing with issues like this.

    Someone steals from you? They just invited a maelstrom of retribution, carte blanche.

    I have zero qualms with sending someone to the ICU for taking what doesn’t belong to them. They do NOT have a right to simply steal as they wish.

    For anyone who feels the need to defend this human garbage, please save your keystrokes. Nothing you say can or will ever justify their actions.

    We (the non-thieving, contributing members of society) outnumber them (the useless wastes of life) easily by the thousands. We need to make them scared of us, not the other way around. There is strength in numbers.

  • 1. Using a chain to lock up a bike on U street is asking for your bike to be stolen. Yes, chains are much cheaper, but instead of being cheap and trying to externalize the protection costs onto the people walking near your bike, please just buy a ulock and lock your bike up correctly. Ultimately you are responsible for your things, not others.

    2. People steal bikes and then sell them to people. You dont know that the person you assaulted actually stole your bike. They may have just bought it.

    3. Did you have proof of ownership with you? The serial number inscribed on the bikes bottom bracket or an itemized receipt are the only ways to prove ownership. Without a proof of ownership, the police it would have been unable to do anything.

  • In all honesty, you got away with your confrontation with the criminal because you are female. Seriously.

    If I, an average dude standing 5’9″ and probably weighing more than you, had tried what you did, I probably would have been hurt pretty bad.

    Not everyone can act proactively with immunity. And very often it comes down to gender.

    • Excellent point. When your date decides to start something with a big dude at the bar, who’s he gonna pummel? The girl? Nope, you’ll be the face he slams.

      A male/male confrontation would have ended completely differently.

  • Hey everyone, I wrote this post. While yes, I know it was pretty crazy to confront this kid, I think it is equally crazy to just roll over and take it all the time. I am not one of those people who thinks the world should be perfect and that sometimes you don’t set yourself up for shit. I don’t think you should blame the victim but I don’t walk around thinking nothing bad will ever happen to me. When I lived in PG county I was burglarized and I know how it feels to come home to your stuff gone and you not knowing if they will come back…and they did.

    When I say no one did anything, I do not expect anyone to jump the kid. But like one commenter said, they simply asked, “hey is that your car?” I would think you could safely walk over and say “hey is everything here ok?” that alone would be a deterrent for a lot of punks. Its why sales clerks in stores are told they need to greet people and ask if they need help finding things. It is a theft deterrent.

    Also, one commenter went so far as to assume the kid was black. Then also imply that it would be racist to assume a black kid was in the wrong every time…well buddy, I never said the kid was black, the mere fact that you just inferred that from a story about crime, kinda makes you just as racist now as you would have been in the other role (defending me), only in that case you would have been at least doing something that might have helped me get my bike back without all the shoving and swearing. Also, he might have been less likely to have begun his little stalking bit afterwards. I’m just saying.

    Thanks to everyone who had positive comments, and even those of you who called me insane. At least you read the post and maybe will even think about this. Even if it doesn’t change your mind or it doesn’t change your actions, you will think about it when you see a bike on the street chained up.

    To the questions of the lock. I had a Kryptonite brand coiled cable lock. He sliced through it like it was butter. I have since purchased a lock that is gold rated, (who knew locks had ratings) and heavy duty. Will be very upset if it gets cut since I think my lock is now worth more than my bike…might actually be the stupidest thing I have done so far. Guess we will see.

    I think the one thing I have learned from this is that leaving your bike on a well populated street in a heavy traffic area is not enough, but leaving it at a bike parking spot with other bikes is probably a better option which I will now do. Yay for all of the bike parking that I have seen pop up these past few weeks at the bars on 11th street!

    • As a 5’2″ girl I think you’re crazy, but awesome, for going after the thief. I never would have the guts to do something like that.

    • “I would think you could safely walk over and say “hey is everything here ok?” that alone would be a deterrent for a lot of punks.”

      Here is how you have characterized your actions:

      “Before my friends even knew what was up I am running at the kid who doesn’t see me coming. I shove him off my bike and then a tirade of swear words that would make a sailor blush burst out of my mouth. The guy is so shocked he sort of just stands there still half on my bike. I grab the handle bars and say THIS IS MY BIKE! He has the audacity to tell me it is HIS bike. Then I tell him he is a POS that stole my bike after cutting my lock. His reply of “I didn’t steal no bike.” has me so convinced of his innocence…riiiiight. So then he tries to climb back on the bike at which point I again shove him off and bombard him with more curses.

      As I walk off with my bike and my friends back around the corner to U, I notice he has the nerve to start following us. So again I turned around and screamed at him. This time telling him to stop following us or I will call the cops because I have all night to waste, but does he?!?”

      I think it is safe to say that things are not “ok here.” What would me having walked up and asked “hey is everything here ok” changed about that set of interactions besides give the thief a convenient male to direct his aggression towards?

      Just sayin’, try to put yourself in the shoes of onlookers to this situation…

      • I think he meant…the situation would not have escalated to that point if a passerby stopped and said to the mope – mid theft – “Is that your bike?” 50/50 chance that it would’ve changed the situation…but the thief would know that he got spotted.

    • “well buddy, I never said the kid was black”

      there aren’t a lot of white teenagers at 14th and U. Was it Sidwells field trip day?

    • more people need to try out a pair of bolt cutters some time so they can appreciate how truly worthless a cable lock is. you can be fairly discreet and have the lock off within about 2 seconds from start. get a U (as small as possible) or a heavy gauge chain if you’re serious about not having your bike stolen.

    • Agreed on the cable lock front. Useless. Get a heavy heavy chain or a tiny U lock. Preferably both.

    • Thanks for the post OP – hopefully more people will start paying attention to their surroundings, start speaking up and doing the right thing.

  • I once passed a guy cutting through a flimsy cord around a bike. I asked him “is that your bike?” He replied: “yea, I lost my lock.” I looked at him for about 2 seconds and turned away. I decided it wasn’t worth risking my safety over someone elses bike and he’d be gone before the cops arrived.

    If I saw something big, I’d act, but not for something like that.

    In fact, a few weeks back, I saw a guy jump out of his car and push a woman off a bike and then drive off. I called 911 but the woman told me to hang up. Turns out, she had keyed his car after feeling that the guy had driven too close to her. I wasn’t the only one to act. There were people all over this situation.

    Moral? There are a lot of good people in this town but buy a really good lock.

  • GM just robbed us all of millions of dollars again by pushing a regular hybrid and calling it an Electric Vehicle.. who do I call for that?

    We need reverse gentrification there to get rid of the white people at the top who keep doing this again and again?

  • Please don’t lock bikes to trees. It harms the tree and it encourages idiots to try and steal bikes by attacking the tree.

    OP, you took a risk here, possibly a foolish one, but I admire you for standing up to the thief. I’ve never really understood the “it isn’t worth your life” line. We’re talking about risk, not certain death.

    As for the bystanders, there are a lot of ways one can intervene with minimal risk, even in an ambiguous situation. It’s easy to call the police. Shout that you’re calling the police. Yell it loudly. Stand across the street, if you’re worried.

    I came across a scuffle on the sidewalk. I didn’t really understand what was going on – they seemed to know each other – so I just stopped 50 feet away and shouted “Hey! Do you need the cops?!” One guy ran. The other, picking himself up, said no, thanks. End of fight.

    Somehow I seem to come across a lot of crises. Robberies, hit and runs, people bleeding on the sidewalk, incipient fires….I can’t imagine not taking some responsibility, even if it’s just calling 911 and letting people know that you’re doing so.

    • Solid points, especially about the trees. Locking bikes to trees can damage the bark, and all the walking next to them can compact the dirt and make it difficult for the roots to get air and water.

      Lock your bikes to bike racks or something metal. If there’s not a free bike rack directly outside of where you want to leave it, keep riding until you find something.

      Also, I’d love to see MPD run some bike theft sting operations. There’s probably not all that many of the thieves out there.

  • Glad you got your bike back and bravo for fighting back! Probably wasn’t the best /safest option as everyone has pointed out- but it worked in the end luckily. I applaud your courage!

  • Congratulations for not getting shot, idiot

  • Several weeks ago ABC ran (repeated) on its show “What Would You Do” a piece on passersby reactions to a bike thief. Check it out…

    Would you stop a bike thief?

    What if the thief is female?

  • People need to speak up. I’m 5’2″ and I’ve confronted kids when they threw rocks at my car near the projects, I’ve confronted adults when they litter, and people in suits when they don’t pick up their dog feces. These people always looked shocked – as if no one has ever called them out. I know that saftey is a concern, but when do you decide that it’s time to stand up for yourself or others? How about for a kid who’s parent is abusing them…or do we all fall victim to a populist isolation – that allowed a woman to be beaten to death while on a busy highway and no one stopped to help (something that actually happend in NYC in the 80’s).

    Good for you for sticking up for yourself. I would have said something if I had seen somone fiddling with your bike lock. I hope you would have done the same for me.

    • “Near the projects”? Jahosaphat! Next you’ll be solving crimes close to a crack den, around the way from a dog-fighting ring and not very far from a bona-fide whore house! Never let it be said that this city lacks its fair share of 5’2″ suburbanite princesses with latent crime-fighting super-skillz.

  • Perhaps the people around you realized it wasn’t exactly the crime of the century.

  • I think people did setup and do something when they warned you repeatedly that it wasn’t a safe spot to lock up there..

    Secondly, who the hell locks their bike up to a tree?

  • PoP, you’re psychic man. Just this afternoon I got to witness a bike theft in action. What an interesting way to spend an afternoon, casing a joint, walking into the yard, and stealing a nice bike from hard working residents. Nice easy ride away. Wonder how many bikes are stolen each week in DC?

    Why didn’t I do anything? Just not worth a bullet to confront the guy….happened too quick for police to be able to respond in a meaningful way.

    • Seriously should have called the cops. No camera on your phone? Couldn’t make out a description of his clothes or tell the direction they rode off in? Nothing you could have done? Just silence…acceptance…now you are part of the problem.

    • Right, because the headlines are filled with stories of bike thieves who, when observed, yank a submachinegun out of their back pocket and go on a rampage, gunning down everyone who’s witnessed their crime.

      Take some responsibility. You could at least have provided the cops with a description of the thief and the bike. Police officers do catch people, when they know what to look for, and when someone’s taken five minutes to call.

  • There’s a common theme in this discussion – it isn’t “worth your life,” or it isn’t “worth getting shot” – as if getting killed for any kind of action is a certainty. There is a chance that you’ll die, yes, but it’s a very, very small risk.

    We hear this on a national level, when commentators propose that if we allow airline passengers to carry on a few containers of liquid, terrorists will blow up planes.

    Our society’s pretty terrible at assessing anything that involves risk. We make decisions based on worst-case scenarios, not on the basis of what’s even remotely likely to happen. Bruce Schneier writes about it pretty eloquently:

    This kind of inability to comprehend risk makes us do things like spend billions on useless security measures, or do stupid things like refuse to take any responsibility because a bike thief might shoot us.


  • News flash… people steal bikes. It just happens. There is nothing noteworthy about this story and the writer’s righteous moral outrage is largely misplaced. (I actually suspect that he fabricated this story–at least the part about the confrontation with the thief.)

    Plus, securing your bike with a lock that can be “sliced in two as if it were butter” is akin to not locking it up at all. Buy a decent lock and your bike is safe.

    • news flash… youre a bitch. you just are. there is nothing noteworthy about your comment and your smug self serving cynicism is pretty ridiculous. (i actually suspect that you suck and are friendless so you act out anonymously on blogs.)

      plus, people like you are the reason that people like the thief in this story exist. if it werent for people like you getting their property stolen, asses kicked, and generally disrespected and not doing anything about it except rolling over on your back to expose your yellow belly, then people like me wouldnt have to live in this city enraged at the outright disregard that these thugs have for the law and their neighbors.

  • You’re on U street and there are cops everywhere.

    You really should’ve hailed one down and pursued the case as far as you can.

    As it stands, this little thug got away with it with ZERO repercussions…

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