Organized Thieves Target U Street’s Bistro La Bonne

“Dear PoPville,

I live 2 blocks away from 14th & U and am a frequent at Bistro La Bonne [1340 U St, NW] – I know the staff quite well, have been going there for awhile now. Tonight, my best friend and I were sitting at the bar, right beside the entryway. Apparently a group of 5 Caucasians rolled through, 3 guys/2 girls, and while I was chatting away with my girlfriend (see: Ed. Note: A curse word is used for title of footage): a woman grabbed my purse that was hanging on my chair between my chair and my friend’s chair. The woman had come into the restaurant with a group, behind a bald man (see below) – they acknowledged the security coming in (this part of footage is not available yet), lingered, went towards the end of the bar, then walked out, picking up my bag along the way (I’m the last person at the end of the bar, all the way on the left). You can see this in the above referenced link (footage we taped while watching it at the restaurant – the robbery occurs at 9:46). The bald guy behind her was in on it, as was an Asian girl (visible in footage of outside the restaurant, though not available for this email) , a bearded white brunette male (see photo above), and the white brunette male you see next to him at the beginning of the footage.

They then proceeded to attempt to spend $512.00 at a CVS in Silver Spring. And they also tried to attempt to spend money at an Exxon Mobile in Silver Spring. (Insert declare: “USAA debit card ftw!”)

A police officer came by – we all reviewed the footage. This group of 5 were clearly professionals (hot damn they were – and I’m a NYer, I feel so… stupefied.). I’m reaching out to you because, as the officer mentioned, it was professionally executed. And since it happened on U Street (and they went to Silver Spring), it’s likely they’ve targeted U Street before. I’m enclosing footage and pictures for your viewers. Any help in the identification process is of course appreciated, but I recognize the impossibility of these incidents, and my principal hope right now is spreading the word on these motherf******, especially since it occurred at a rather popular spot like the Bistro.”

71 Comment

  • damn that sucks.

  • Actually surprised this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often, particularly with credit cards that are left on tables.

    This does suck though. Sorry you had to go through it.

  • Ocean’s Six?

    Wouldn’t these professionals have to hit at least a few spots each night to get any sort of real payoff? $512 at a CVS is less than $100 to each participant (5 white guys and 1 asian girl) and that’s assuming they can fence the items bought for the same value, not likely from a CVS where everything is marked up 50%. Maybe it’s just for the thrill.

  • andy

    While this sucks, I see movie material here.

  • That’s awesome that there is footage on these people. I hope they get called out at the bar next time they try it.

  • I blame it on the government subsidized housing in that area. They really should just bulldoze those projects.

  • I was with you until this comment:

    “This group of 5 were clearly professionals (hot damn they were – and I’m a NYer, I feel so… stupefied.)”

    We’re not talking about pizza or bagels or expensive real estate, yet the NYers urban superiority complex still rears its head. Well done.

  • Something tells me they’re not from around here.

  • I was totally there last night and I am pretty sure, sitting next to these people at the bar.

  • Definitely professional criminals…. stealing purses and going to CVS. This NYer must be used to people stealing messenger bags and taking their ill-gotten gains for a shopping spree at the Duane Reed. I’m so… stupefied.

    • I appreciate the original poster writing in to share this. No need to be a jerk.

  • You should send the footage in to the local news stations (or “caught-on tape” shows) and maybe they’ll air it and asking viewers to call police if they can identify any of the people in the video. Couldn’t hurt…..

  • Just another reminder to never, ever leave your purse on the back of your chair. Sorry it happened, though! And very glad they have such good video. I hope they nail the suckers.

  • brunette male? were they dressed in drag? I’m so confused.

  • I don’t understand why places like CVS don’t put a cap on how many gift cards a person can buy in 1 transaction. Not many people really need to buy 500$+ of gift cards at any given time. The cops who came to the scene after my purse was stolen actually drove me to the nearest stores to see if we could recognize the thief. From my credit card statement they bought around 1000$ at a gas station on NY ave NE about 10 minutes after I was robbed. The police said that purse snatchers almost always try to buy gift cards immediately after the theft so they can get as much out of it before the credit cards and debit cards are canceled by the victim.

    • When I worked retail, I would watch out for this. I would also not let a person buy a VISA gift card with a check. Unfortunately, he might have been able to use the self-checkout machine. Does anyone know if you can activate VISA gift cards through self-check out, or do you need to go to the counter?

  • This happened to my girlfriend at meridian pint. They took a wallet out of a purse slung over her chair. They then racked up over 1000 at Cvs and Safeway

  • I heard the CVS clerk on Georgia Ave and New Hampshire tell a customer last month that they needed to show ID before buying a gift card for that amount of money. (I don’t remember how much it was.) The guy said never mind and then went to the back of the store and tried to buy it at the pharmacy counter. The pharmacist said gift cards can only get rung up in the front and he got angry and I think she alerted the police officer in the store. Not sure what happened after that but I was glad to see the clerks being on top of things.

    • That’s awesome! Let’s hear it for these guys, it’s generally a thankless job. I always write “CHECK ID” in big bold letters in the signature area of credit/debit cards, but probably half of cashiers don’t even look at the back, much less ask for my ID. I always thank the ones who do.

    • It’s great to see the store manager is training the clerks to be aware of these things. Back when I was a pharmacy technician I don’t think I would have batted an eye at someone trying to buy a $500 gift card. After all, I was still in high school and didn’t even have a credit card myself.

  • I keep looking at the screen capture of that beardy douchebag and getting pissed off. Ugh. Losers.

  • Great, just when us bearded men thought we were getting ahead without having to deal with sterotyping/profiling…this has to happen. Damn shame…SMH.

  • The bearded guy looks like that doctor from ER. I think the actors name is Noah Wyle. I guess he’s had to turn to a life of crime since ER isn’t even in syndication. Sad.

  • I have actually considered scraping off the security code from the back of my credit cards in order to limit ‘some’ types of credit card fraud.

  • I had something similar happen to me at Pi a few months ago. I was sitting at the bar, and two guys came in, acting like they were going to order a pizza and asking about what kind of pizza we were eating. My purse was hanging on the side/back of my chair. (I realize this was a dumb move.) One of them must have pulled out my wallet, slipped out my credit and debit card, and put the wallet back during this time. They left without ordering (though I didn’t realize that), and 30 minutes later I had charges at a Target in Maryland and at a car rental place.

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