Dear PoPville – Mt. Pleasant Crime Alert


Photo by PoPville flickr user AaronLeavy

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to let you know about a strange occurrence over the last 2 days in my neighborhood. My girlfriends car has been broken into twice in the last 3 days. On late Sunday/early Monday somebody smashed her back windshield and took a coat, but nothing else (although they clearly rummaged around the glove box area). This happened, according to google earth, at 1638 meridian place. Then, late last night (sometime before 5 45 am when she left to drive to her job at a hospital) someone shattered entered through the back right passenger door. Nothing was stolen this time (which is odd given that there was a GPS, but it was hidden under a seat luckily, just by chance). This happened no more than 50 yards away from the original break in – this time her car was parked on 16th about 20 feet from the intersection of 16th and Meridian place.

I’ve lived here for over a year and never had any problems like this, and I see broken car glass maybe once every few months. Have you been hearing anything about this increasing in occurrence recently? The police came and took photos and tried to lift some fingerprints as they think it might be the same person.”

I have been hearing about a rise in car break ins. So just a reminder to never leave anything in your car even if you think it has no value like a jacket or bag of gym clothes. It’s a pain in the ass but better than replacing broken glass.

Another reader writes:

“I live in Mount Pleasant and was hoping you could pass along some information in regards to the increase in break-ins in Mount Pleasant. Around 4:30 this morning, as I was walking down my stairs to grab a glass of water I saw a man on my porch in all black, with a black cap. Unfortunately, he must have noticed me before I noticed him because he was already running down my stairs and to the street before I made it to the door. No windows were broken, the door doesn’t appear to be tampered with, but I just wanted to get the word out about it so people in the neighborhood can be on alert. If you could possibly post something, it would be appreciated, just want to make sure everyone in my neighborhood stays safe! And it has not been reported to the police yet, but I do plan on calling them after work today.”

Ed. Note: No need to attack this reader – I told them they should always call the police immediately in situations like this. They agree, and have since alerted police.

69 Comment

  • about 2 weeks ago my car was broken into at Sherman and Irving. Very annoying. Smashed the right front passenger window. Took the GPS (which I had stupidly left on the seat). grrrr.

    • Hey! Two weeks ago, police caught the thief of my wife’s bike on 1700 block of Irving, and recovered a GPS along with the bike. Contact Lt. Jova (HO va) at the MPD 3D HQ.

  • Shucks. I’m looking to move to that area and now I’m all nervous.

    • Don’t be, it’s a fine neighborhood.

    • It’s a great neighborhood and I never feel unsafe, just need to be alert. I still always tell people to move here, but use common sense at night and early in the morning.

    • Been here three years and not had one issue yet. On the other hand I leave NOTHING in my car in-sight ever.

      Its a great fun, growing once again, area. Come on down.

      Just pay always pay attention like any good city dweller.

    • Don’t be worried. MtP. is awesome, and most people who live there are crazy in love with the neighborhood. I’ve lived in there for eight years without a single problem.

      • Mt. Pleasant always goes through periods of mini crime waves with cars broken into, etc. Then it passes. In the spring, there will be a wave of plants disappearing from porches or yards. Not nearly as scary as when we had the Mt. P/CH shooter in 1993.

    • PDMtP

      15 years. I got my garage broken into once – that’s it.

      • My husband and I have lived in Mt. Pleasant for 11 years. In that time we’ve never been mugged or had our car broken into (knock on wood) although we’ve had two (unsuccessful) attempted break-ins of our garage. We also somehow left the garage door open all day once, and when we came home not one thing was missing (we think blowing leaves triggered the closing door to reverse); another time this happened, we found a note on our front porch from somebody who said they found it open, found our switch and closed it. Again, nothing missing.

    • care break-ins are probably a sign it’s a good neighborhood. my car got broken into at 2pm on a sunday afternoon in cleveland park—less than 1/2 block off connecticut ave. people break into cars in rich neighborhoods b/c they’re more likely to have expensive goods inside. just leave your glove box open and your doors unlocked… ’cause if they want to steal your car they will anyway.

    • Newer residents tend to have higher expectations for improving the crime problem, so even as crime declines, concerns do not. I think that’s a good thing, because even a “safe” neighborhood by east-of-the-park standards is not nearly safe enough. So don’t be deterred by complaints. Come join the many who are making MtP even safer every year.

  • Wow, the second story would have made me swiftly crap my pants.

    The car break ins make me thankful that I scored a garage with my rental. I know that it doesn’t make me completely immune but it has so far.

    • Not me, I would’ve opened an upstairs window and dropped a cinder block on his head.

      • austindc

        I would do both, though I might crap my pants less swiftly and then after dropping the cinder block, I might wonder why I was storing cinder blocks by my upstairs window in the first place. Luckily, my back porch is so rickety that if someone were lurking on it, I would be notified by the unmistakable sound of a collapsing porch.

        Glad to hear the writer called the police and is safe!

  • I live in Tenleytown- at Wisconsin and Van Ness. Last Tuesday night (the 22nd) my front passenger side window was broken along with another car’s on the same street. They didn’t take anything though the GPS was in the car, but they did rummage through the glove box like mentioned above. Maybe it’s the same people in different parts of the city….

  • Kalorini

    So my boyfriend and I looking to condensing to one car (he drives to work everyday, and I take the Metro, so it would work). We were comparing auto insurance to see who’s got a better rate. I’ve got Geico–broken window = $500 deductible. He’s got Progressive–broken window = $100. In DC, we’re going with Progressive. Just an FYI for those interested in calling their insurance companies and asking about broken windows!

    • changing the deductible = something you can do with any insurance company

      • Kalorini

        Not with Geico, doll. He’s got a $500 deductible for everything else. Windows are $100. Huge selling point!

        • not to mention that if the rates are the same (or maybe even less with Progressive) the much lower deductible makes that an easy choice.

          Emil’s snark = meh.

        • Um – yes, i have Geico and a 100 deductible for comprehensive. This is needed living in Columbia Heights. Been broken into twice.

          To the OP, welcome to life in the city. Stuff like this even happens in the good neighborhoods.

        • Also have Geico, live in Petworth, and went with the $100 comprehensive deductible. Don’t need some douche breaking my window and then having to pay $500 for it.

  • The day before Thanksgiving, someone smashed the front passenger-side window of a car parked directly in front of my house (700 block of Quebec Place NW, about half a block east of the Park View CVS).

    It happened sometime between 3 p.m. and about 9 p.m.

    I’d seen MPD reports before listing things that had happened on my block, but it really brought it home (so to speak) to see it right in front of my house.

  • There have been a rash of window smashes on the Belmont/Crescent Place loop off 16th street. A week ago, something like 6 different cars on the loop were smashed. The police came for the first person who called and when they saw all the cars, they just waited for the owners to come to their cars so they could take all the reports at once.

    • Yeah, I noticed this, too. This street has a surprising number of car break-ins. I have to avoid walking on broken glass more than I have to avoid walking on the stinky ginkgo berries. Even more brazen, I’ve seen a number of broken car windows on Florida Ave between 16th and 17th — only a block from the police headquarters.

      • So,a few days ago I was riding my bike down Florida between 16th and 17th, and saw a guy walking down the street checking out car doors and looking into the windows…I was late for class and forgot about it until now, but now I realize I should have stopped and called the police.

  • I live in Mount Pleasant and have been concerned by the increase in crime the past few months (or maybe it’s the same and I just hear about it more?). Last week the friend of my next door neighbor’s daughter was jumped while standing in front of the neighbor’s house. The guy was hiding in the stairwell to the upstairs apartment. She didn’t see a weapon but he repeatedly threatened to kill her. He punched her in the face and took her Blackberry out of her hand. A few days later a man tried to rip a backpack off a kid and ran away when a neighbor started yelling. No idea if it’s the same person. I’m starting to get nervous when I’m out alone and was wondering if you guys have any tips? And no, I’m not going to move to the suburbs.

    • Gun crimes seem to be on the decline, while muggings with fists and knives seem to be on the rise. This trend has been going on for at least a couple of years now. Home and car break-ins and car thefts have been increasing dramatically over the last year. But since there is less of a gun risk, what do people think about increasing neighborhood watch activity? Are there any neighborhood watch programs active in DC now, especially in Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights and Petworth? This requires some time and a little temerity, but strikes me as the most effective solution.

      • I also think starting a neighborhood watch is a great idea. Most of the crimes in Mt P are not violent (with the exception of these, I have not heard a lot about anyone being mugged or jumped) but I do think Mt. Pleasant residents are getting targeted because it is known as an area that is growing and it can be isolated in places so it is great for crimes of opportunity. Are there any readers who have experience with organizing neighborhood watch groups?? And can provide information?

        • Not much to add, except I think a neighborhood watch is a good idea and I’d love more info on how to start.

          • AVE THE DATE!

            Please join us for Neighborhood Watch Training. Let’s build our community one block at a time! All are welcome! Bring your neighbors!

            Neighborhood Watch Training
            Tuesday, January 17, 2012
            St Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church
            1525 Newton St NW, Washington DC, 20010
            Upstairs Auditorium, 16th-Street Side

            6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
            6:30 PM to 7:00 PM – Sign-in, Meet Your Neighbors, Light Dinner
            7:00 PM to 8:00 PM – Block Captains Training with Samantha Nolan
            8:00 PM to 9:00 PM – Small-group Discussions – Issue Identification and Goal Setting
            Free-of-charge, free refreshments provided!

            RSVP or Request More Information: nwchca@gmail.com
            Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/293716237328170/

  • Why are people leaving their GPS’ in the car? Not to blame the victim but isn’t that just common sense.

  • Crestwood got hit Tuesday night. Seven car break-ins between 10:30pm Tues night and 6am Wed morning. Unnerving.

  • In regards to the first poster. Does your girlfriend have traces of a GPS system in her car (e.g., the circular little suction plate attached to her dash where you attach the stand)? Mine got broken into for this reason but I don’t keep my GPS in the vehicle. I have since removed it.

  • MtP has had a severe spike in home break ins since August. Several have been cases of open windows or unlocked doors but in October it got a lot worse. There has also been a spike in smashed car windows. I witnessed two African-American teenagers casing cars during the day on a Friday a few weeks back. I called the police and less than 1 minute later I saw the kids with a briefcase from someone’s nearby car.
    The police know about these issues but if you live in the neighborhood, you need to call it in EVERY TIME. And email Jim Graham and let him know too. MtP does not have enough resources to deal with this as officers are routinely pulled over to Columbia Heights.
    MtP isn’t any more or less safe than before, but crimes of opportunity can be decreased. Lock up your house, take everything out of your car. Clean your car window where the suction cup goes – they look for those marks. And please, call the police if anything looks suspicious!

  • I live on Meridian and 14th (near the first incident), and car break ins are a regular occurrence on this street. I work from home, and it is not an unusual case for me to hear car alarms going off during the day while I’m working. While not all of these are due to break ins, many of them are, and our street regularly has scattered glass from these incidents. I’m not sure if/how these crimes are related to the drug dealers on the corner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some connection (maybe the customers are doing the break ins?). What is clear to me is that this seems to be a hot-spot for car break ins, and I bet that most of these incidents are caused by a few repeat offenders. It seems to me that the police need to be more proactive, set out bait cars (and bait bikes while they are at it), and catch these people.

    • I would venture to say that the drug dealers on the corner and the crimes (break-ins) are not related. Drug dealers don’t’ want any added attention going on around them to alert the cops. I would guess if they knew it was one of their “clients” they would smack them around and/or stop serving them all together for making the spot hot. I’m just sayin…

  • I too live in MtP and had my car broken into on Tuesday night. Luckily, an alert neighbor called the cops (I was not home at the time) and the cops caught the guy red-handed. The responding officer told me that the perp has a long rap sheet and is responsible for a lot of the petty crime in the neighborhood. They were hopeful that the US Attorneys would push for a ‘stay away’ order that would require him to stay out of the neighborhood altogether or risk being arrested again. I don’t know how plausible that is, but if it happens, I’ll be sure to post his info on the MtP listserve.

    • What? A guy has a long rap sheet, commits yet another crime, and the best they can do is issue a “stay away from this neighborhood” order? Are you sure that’s right? What happened to crime AND punishment? We need to have more of the second to reduce the first.

      • If he is under 18, our ethically challenged City Council has crafted a very lenient legal system regarding punishment. Even juveniles convicted of violent crimes are often back on the street in short order, or at best, “detained” in halfway houses that seem to have great difficulty in keeping these wards of the city under control.

        • Ugh, when I heard “long rap sheet,” I automatically thought adult, but you could be right about the perp being under 18. It is just utterly ridiculous that a
          “stay away” order is the best they can do.

        • No, the guy was probably in his early fifties. I take it he has already done some time, but I guess you can only hold somebody for so long for breaking into people’s cars. And the stay away order would likely be on top of any other sentence that the court decides to impose. But I hear your frustration. I think part of the problem is that without effective rehabilitation programs in place, these people just keep being recycled through the criminal justice system with no end in sight.

  • My sister was visiting me a few weeks ago and had her window smashed at 14 and Euclid in order to steal her suitcase. (The suitcase was on the back seat of an SUV, not smart, I know). Luckily there was nothing of great value in the suitcase, just sentimental, however, there were valuable things left in the car untouched…

  • I count 4 people who left GPS’s in their cars in this thread. Sorry folks but if you want to know why cars keep getting into, you can thank your neighbors who “hide” GPS’s in their cars (or simply leave them on seats). If people consistently left nothing of value in their cars, the break-ins would stop.

    I started leaving my doors unlocked when this was a problem in Bloomingdale 5 years ago.

  • The mailing list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/psa301/ was created in an attempt to keep Mount Pleasant residents up to date on the crime scene, and hopefully help bring our recent incidents down by sharing information.

    The Cleveland Park mailing list has also been abuzz about car break-ins the last few days and I assume it will continue through the holiday season. Don’t leave those packages in the car!

  • I live in Dupont and the car break-ins happen pretty frequently. I walk my dog along R street and it seems as though every week I either see glass on the ground or a window smashed in. I’ve spoke to someone who parked in front of their home and 30 minutes later their car was broken into. Nothing had been taken but this occurred during broad daylight!

  • Someone smashed a window in my car on Nov. 21. The car was on 19th in front of the school there – at California St. I might have left the GPS cables visibly spilling out of the middle compartment though I often try to hide them – I had not been consistent. (I will be from now on) Nothing was taken. They dug into the glove box and middle compartment but CDs and even the parking meter quarters were still there.
    Never filed a police report because I was initially told I could file over the phone. When they called me back, I was told that because a rock had been used, I would have to drive back to scene of the crime to file the report. I was 5 min from work and it was not worth it since the deductible is so high. I will check out other car insurance.

    • “Never filed a police report because I was initially told I could file over the phone. When they called me back, I was told that because a rock had been used, I would have to drive back to scene of the crime to file the report”

      Wait, what? They won’t let you file over the phone because they used a rock to break your window? How does that make sense?

  • Hmm, I feel pretty lucky. Last Wednesday night, in Columbia Heights, I accidentally left my laptop in my car overnight. I just got back from picking friends up at the airport, helped them carry their bags into our apartment and totally forgot I left my laptop bag on the back seat. Luckily it was still there Thursday morning when I remembered.

  • Capitol Hill has also been experiencing a string of car break-ins. Mine was broken into, through the side rear window, 2 weeks ago (13th and C St SE). A serious of other cars were hit that night as well and the officer informed me that there had been well over 30 that month. Sounded like they knew who was doing it but hadn’t caught them yet.

    • Our car was broken into on Sunday night/Monday morning in Capitol Hill – 13th and Constitution, NE. Stole a set of golf clubs out of the trunk. Luckily, the jerks popped the lock on the car instead of breaking a window. So at least we’re not having to pay for window repair. It’s the little things…

  • There was an article in the paper a few weeks back about how DC’s adoption of vehicle license scanners throughout the city has been associated with a sharp decrease in carjackings over the years. Thieves who once were stealing cars are now (assumedly) taking things from the car but leaving the car itself. So I suppose those finding broken car windows are relatively lucky.

  • The thing I like least about DC is that black people here start wearing ski masks when the temperature drops below 50. In most areas of the country those are reserved for criminals. It’s scary when you’re crossing paths with guys in ski masks on quiet streets like those in Mt. Pleasant.

  • It’s the basic rule of never, ever leave anything of any potentially perceived value in your car. And if you do that and happen to have out-of-state plates, well, you’re doomed.

  • People should never leave anything in their vehicles, lock their vehicle door, and park under a bright street light, if possible.

  • Realize this isn’t realistic for some, but we got rid of our car for many of these reasons: break-ins, insurance, car payments, gas, etc. Best decision. Ever. More money for Thaitanic II and D’vines. Plus, we get to experience our wonderful mass transit options on a full time basis.

  • Adam, I am considering getting rid of my car. However, I would be able to shop in Maryland and Virginia. It’s hard carrying merchandise on the Metro bus. An example, flat sceen televison, groceries, and other commondities. If something breaks in my apartment, I can drive to a WalMart or the Hardware store in downtown Silver Spring. Nope, I need my car. LOL Cabs are too expensive and black men have a hard time hailing one.

    • Charles – check out Zipcars. We’re in CH and there seems to be at least one every other block. Our vet and dentist are out in VA, so we’re in need of a car now and again. We tried taking the metro and bus to our dentist in alexandria once…yeah, that was lame.

  • I’ve had my 12-year-old car broken into in Kalorama twice in the last six months. Nothing was taken either time because I don’t leave anything in my car. The second time, they even found a spare ignition key I’d accidentally left in the center console after taking it to a mechanic and obviously decided my car wasn’t worth stealing. Anyone have thoughts on the advisability of just leaving it unlocked? In the grand scheme of things it’s not such a big deal to get a smashed window fixed, but I’d rather not have to keep spending 160 bucks on it.

  • A woman was attacked in the alley next to our apt building at Mt. Pleasant and Park at around 10:15 Saturday night (12/3). We ran to the window and shouted at the attacker to leave her alone — he turned and fled. Fortunately, aside from being shaken up, she was unharmed. When police arrived, they told us there had been at least 5 other muggings and attempted robberies in the MtP/AdMo area in about a fifteen minute time-frame, all with similar descriptions. They think it was the same group of young thugs, driving around and hitting likely victims. The kid had a ski mask and winter coat on, and judging from his voice and build, was probably 16-18 y.o. The good part is she was unharmed and the kid didn’t get anything, and that shouting at the would-be criminal had an effect; the bad part is that this crew had an m.o. and was clearly coming into these neighborhoods to target victims. Stay alert, everyone, and report everything.

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