Dear PoP – Lots of Home Breakins Lately in Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant

Photo by PoPville flickr user henriksenv

“Dear PoP,

So, a friend of mine who lives on Monroe St btw 14th and 16th had his basement apartment broken into today and had his laptop stolen. Someone had unsuccessfully attempted to break in about 2 months ago, so his landlord (upstairs) put in a new steel frame door and an alarm system. Clearly this did not work. I also heard from my neighbor (on 14th btw Shepherd and Taylor) that there had been another basement break-in on our block about a month ago.

Is this occurring all over the MtP/Columbia Heights area? Have others seen a rash of break-ins, or even in particular basement break-ins?”

Unfortunately another reader writes:

“My home was burglarized last night in Mt Pleasant. Burglars entered while we were home from window 10+ feet from the ground.

Items stolen include:

Olive/Grey backpack with the logo “NICE” on the back

1. Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop
2. Dell 6100 laptop
3. Two Motorolla Cliq cell phones
4. One Nokia 6350 cell phone
5. Kenneth Cole wallet with cards and money

If you hear about anyone trying to fence the laptops or the cell phones please let me know.”

54 Comment

  • Yikes. Sorry to hear this happened. I know from experience it’s really disturbing when you have window bars, steel doors, and an alarm system, and they still manage to get in.

  • The condo building on Belmont between 14th and 15th was broken into last week, as well as individual apartments (during the day). Laptops were stolen.

  • How is that possible??

    I’m assuming they put up a ladder posing as workmen?

    • Tha’ts pretty daring, especially considering the owners were in the house at the time. I’m assuming the window was open already?

      • It’s actually not so daring, when you factor in that the thief can reasonably assume that the occupant of the house does not own or possess firearms to protect his/her home.

  • Our place (near 14th and shepherd) was robbed a few months ago and they stole a laptop. I have three questions:

    1) Everyone that has their house robbed indicates the burgles stole a laptop. Where do all these laptop’s go? Really who is buying them? In my case it was a 3 year old laptop. Is there really a market for them?

    2) My street has neighborhood watch signs but no one has ever approached me to join. Are these real or just something left over?

    3) If we are all upset about crime in the area what can we do about it? Do police have volunteers that can go on patrol (not looking to join the guardian angles but to really help the police)? I would prefer not to just be whining on a blog and want to do something and I suspect many other people do as well.

    • Stolen items are fenced at pawn shops. If they are really ambitious they might use personal information for identity theft purposes.

      I live in the same area and I’ve never seen or heard of a neighborhood watch; but maybe a local list-serve would know.

      Police can’t do anything unless everyone is reporting the thefts. If there starts to become a pattern they might try to do some education/awareness programs, but with a declining force and high levels of violent crime, they are probably stretched pretty thin.

  • My house hasn’t been broken into, but I’m not shocked by this post. I have seen a rash of car break-ins in/near our place in Columbia Heights (14th and Meridian). I normally work from home, so maybe this helps prevent day-time break-ins.

  • Apparently, MPD is working this case and believes it is one person committing the burglaries. They think they are even close to catching him. I think we should all be extra vigilant. The police believe this person knocks on the doors or rings doorbells first to see if anyone is home (in this case the home owner was home but taking a shower on the 3rd floor), and also targets homes where the basement doors are shielded from view of the street. In this case, he actually kicked in the basement door. The next door neighbor saw him attempting to flee through the back yard – which is not possible – then ran back out the front. I know I am keeping my eyes open for suspicious activity in my neighborhood. I cannot wait until they catch this jerk.

  • Our rowhouse (on Kenyon St between 11th and 13th) was broken into in February, via the basement. Nothing was stolen – the police suggested that someone might have been looking for a place to sleep. We’re pretty sure they broke in at night; we discovered the broken window and window bars the next morning.

  • I’m not the most creative person in the world, but live in a basement apartment in the area with metal frame bars on front/back. How are these people getting in?

  • A bit far afield from the burglarised, but my home in Pleasant Plains was burglarized (and vandalized) about 6 weeks ago. A neighbor’s home was broken into the same day, and subsequent discussions on the neighborhood listserv suggest that there were 2 others in the immediate neighborhood the preceding week. I asked the investigating officers whether there was a particular rash of burglaries in the neighborhood. They said not really but that burglaries were up all over town. Dunno what to make of that.

  • This is a long shot, but if you had something expensive stolen – especially small consumer electronics – you can try eBay. Search for your own item and restrict it geographically to the DC area. You never know what (or who) you might find.

    • Or Craigslist. Or if you’re brave, pawnshops in the area you live (thieves shop and sell in places they know).

  • I have a buddy who lives on Kenyon between 13th and 14th.

    For the first 4 years he lived there, he would have someone break in, or attempt to on average twice a year…literally happened 7 times in 4 years. It was like clockwork.

    2 years ago he bought two “dummy” outdoor video cameras online one he he hung on his back porch, another on the front of his house. He says they cost him $10 bucks a piece.

    They are pretty small, about 6 inches long and battery powered so they have a small red light on the front blink on and off every 20 seconds or so. They look pretty real and it may be coincidence but he hasn’t had one break in or attempted breakin in the two years since.

    Or you could just buy a NRA Member sign and stick it into your yard.

  • more curious how the alarm system did not work. just a howler? note actually connected to a cell/phone?

  • I’m very curious if any of these break-ins have been in homes that have dogs. It seems to me that a dog would be a huge deterrent of burgulary because of the noise and potential to harm the burgular. (depending on the dog of course) Does anyone think having a dog, or making it seem like you have a dog would prevent a break-in?

    • you must be an insecure dog owner

    • As a dog owner, I think a barking dog is a huge deterrent. Though I think it’s obnoxious that my dog barks at everything that walks by our window, it sure would catch someone off guard or make them think twice before knocking on the bars or entering.

    • My dog barks at anyone who approaches the door, but only when I am home. I suspect that when I am away from home, he runs to the door wagging his tail, hoping to see me. He likes to protect me, but not the house, necessarily.

      • same with mine. I’m actually more concerned about a burglar hurting my dog out of fear than my dog ever attacking an intruder.

        • Mine are in crates when I’m not home… I don’t tihnk they can do much. 🙁

          • Mine is created too. But she barks, and loudly, if anyone knocks on the door. She’ll bark, then wait to see if anyone comes in, if no one does, she goes back to sleep. If someone enters the house, She won’t stop barkin until you introduce yourself at her crate. Then she licks you and lies down.

            Thankfully, my nieghbors were great when we moved in, and all know not to knock unless you really want to come in. All of our building maintenance has met her, and they know how to come in to the apt. So, i do hope that is a deterant. The intruders do not know she is in a crate.

          • Man I cannot spell today.

    • Dogs are a big deterrent. About the only advantage of living in a thug culture area is the thugs and associated miscreants think all dogs are fighting dogs. Its actually amusing to watch them back away from tiny dogs out for a walk. Of course, don’t get a dog just for guard duty, you need to take care of it, but generally I’d say they are the best defense possible in DC. Of course they can be shot, which has happened once or twice if I remember correctly.

  • Was broken into on 13th street last month – according to MPD the same person(s) have been hitting dupont, CH, and Mt. Pleasant hard the last two months. As someone stated before, they knock on the front door, if nobody answers they crowbar/kick in the basement door or window. MPD who worked my case told me that they broke into a house where a guy was working from home and he didn’t answer the door….they broke in, saw him in the house and took off. Apparently they were very young, 14-16 years old. Even if they catch these kids, there will be no consequences for them given our current criminal catch and release juvenile system. Also – all that was taken was a laptop…they only take what they can carry.

    • I am one of the homeowners above- these ages make sense because of the small size of the window they got through.

      They are complete pros though, they were in and out in minutes and took only laptops, phones and cards, nothing else.

      The police told me once our place was targetted, none of the “ground floor” locked doors stopped these people, they tried perhaps 4 different attempts before scaling the wall or jumping onto the windowsill where they were able to jimmy open an unlocked window.

      I’m relieved I was told I did nothing stupid but freaked out that these people stopped at nothing to do this- once we were targetted it was a done deal.

  • “jimmy open an unlocked window”

    Sorry it happened to you, but you don’t need to jimmy open an unlocked window. Just simply open it.

  • binpetworth

    How timely! My condo was broken into this afternoon at Taylor & Kansas. Security alarm went off, ADT called, and the thug got my TV and Wii (thankfully didn’t have time to find anything else of value). Must’ve been a skinny little thing, too, because he couldn’t enter the door after breaking the glass, so kicked it in a few inches and shimmied under. Neighbors’ dogs and security alarm clearly weren’t a deterrent. But the best part of my tale is that he left a trail of blood and fingerprints, and I produced the ID numbers of the stolen items to the police. I’m really hoping they catch one of these guys soon!

    • that’s pretty brazen. must be a. kids or b. an addict. still, better to have an alarm system than not. surprised at how many property owners without in gentrifying areas. seems like a no brainer.

  • We live in Columbia Heights – had our place broken into about a month ago. They kicked in the basement door and stole our TV, Wii and laptop. Cops started checking Craigslist immediately and also indicates there had been rash of robberies between 16th and Georgia. This happened during the day and we have a 70 lb dog who was apparently not a deterrent (and was thankfully unharmed).

  • Numbers are up in Bloomingdale and Eckington, too. A neighbor saw a man trying my back door from my deck last weekend at about 7pm Saturday evening. I have iron gates, a monitored alarm system, and a dog who barks when people knock on the door, whether we are home or not.

    • This may sound weird but I think I know exactly who did it. The group of kids (ages 16-25) that hang out in a group of about 5 or so have been wreaking havoc on the neighborhood for the last few years. They are finally old enough that the juvey laws will no longer apply but they need to be caught in the act.

      Their main hangout is on First Street between T and Seaton Place NW in front of the Yoga District and City Market. If only what I’ve seen them do (several attempted break ins where I caught them JUST as they were about to act – with my dog of course) were enough to lock ’em up I would do it in a heartbeat. Only bad thing is we need to make sure they don’t get released the next day!

    • where are the numbers you are talking about?

  • I had experienced three separate break-ins a few years back when I had a basement apartment in CH, so I decided that I would see if I could wire the bars to give these bastards a bit of a shock when they tried to do their thing. An electrician friend came over and hard wired some leads to the bars to see if it might help. I happened to be getting dressed in the bathroom one evening and heard a loud crash and a guy yell out. I went over to the window and there was a scumbag trying to run away shaking his hands and there was a car jack lying on the ground. Perfect for conducting electricity! I wasn’t sure about the legality of it, nor did I care. I was never the victim of another break-in again.

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