Dear PoPville – Don’t Walk Home from the Bars Drunk and Alone – You are a Target for Muggers

Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe in DC

Dear PoPville,

For the past 3 years, 6-7 guys love to hang out on the wall/sidewalk outside of our next door neighbors house. They do not reside there and my neighbor does not know them. We often call the police on them, as they smoke weed, trash our lawns, and harass us as we leave the house. Two of these guys, I believe, are to blame for a series of muggings where intoxicated people are targeted walking home at night. And, these two men have not been caught in the act by the police.

One instance occurred a couple months ago. My husband I were driving home from Baltimore on an early Sunday morning (around 3:30am) when parking into our garage, witnessed the same two casing a mid 20 something male in an attempt to mug him. This man was in bad shape from drinking and was unaware that the two men were following him as he stumbled in an alley behind our home. We intervened, convincing our drunk neighbor to let us give him a ride to his house, thus eluding the mugging.

We reported the incident to the police however the next day the two guys were sitting with their buddies in front of our neighbors home. So we called the police again to make a report. Two weeks later, one of our friends who lives a block over from us reported being mugged while returning home drunk after a night out after work. She works in the service industry and had deposits/tips on her at the time. Two men approached from behind on her porch before she could put the key in the lock. She gave us a similar description of the two guys.

Then, Saturday night, we were home watching movies and I saw blue and red lights flashing on my window. I went outside to investigate. The police had responded to another mugging. Same type of incident – intoxicated guy mugged and violently hit in the face. This man gave a another similar description. I told the police again about the earlier incidents and where we believe the party responsible hangs out.

As far as we can tell, they are targeting people between Columbia Road to Kenyon between Georgia and Warder. And they tend to “hang out” during the day and evenings on Kenyon between the same blocks.

I want readers to be aware of these two men and be safe. Readers be aware – If you are drunk, don’t walk home in this area – get a cab and have the driver wait until you are inside. If you walk, go in groups.

Our best description –
Approx 5′ 10” black male medium complexion with ‘freckle marks’ on his face dreads/braids slim build early 20’s maybe younger
Approx 5′ 5″ black male dark complexion short hair heavier build early 20’s maybe younger

Any advice or information you could provide and what can we do so that these guys stop getting away with this?

The OP assured me they’ve again reported this to the Police but I will make sure they see this as well. I think a dual approach is necessary – MPD needs to patrol this area and patrons need to heed the original advice of not walking home drunk alone late at night.

73 Comment

  • I’d contact the city councilperson for the area and explain the situation too. Seems like there should be better attention paid by the police to these guys since there’s been so much trouble with them and they stand in the same place all the time. They should be the sitting ducks, not the drunk people walking home!

  • Take a cab or, drunk or not, don’t walk home alone period.

    • Clarification: This is no commentary on the victims by any means.

      And I want to thank the OP for their vigilance and outreach. I know exactly the area you’re talking about.

  • The only problem is that we have no idea if the people hanging out next door to your house have actually been involved in these activities. Maybe they have, maybe they haven’t.

    • +1. We’ve had some shifty-looking thuggies in our neighborhood too, hanging around at all hours, but I never had any proof (despite strong suspicions) that they had committed any crimes. We don’t have that here, either.
      I like the idea of a sting, though.

    • Just brainstorming, what if there was a place online where people could post photos of people who they see doing shifty things and the community comes together to identify shady activities, maybe even naming people, describing their clothing, pictures, stuff they were accused of doing… Pros: Neighborhood would have a strategic way of targeting people with “evidence” of them doing stuff and would make people more aware of shifty individuals. Cons: Lots of cons–HUGE potential for framing accusing someone who is innocent etc. People could just post a photo of someone and make up shit. So maybe this isn’t a good idea… It would be the same kind of site they have for sex offenders, just this would be run by private citizens. Anyway, just a thought for improving the community through networking etc.

  • Put an outdoor speaker near their hangout, but high enough to be unreachable, and pipe classical music now and then, when they’re hanging out. Also, randomly fire a professional camera flash at them, from a window in a manner they aren’t quick enough to locate visually. I am serious about these tactics. They worked for me when I lived next to an alley with constant issues, in the early 90s.

  • The posting police are out in full effect today. I thought the no-no’s were naughty words or personal attacks.

    Anyways… If you are walking alone at night in any neighborhood, even Chevy Chase or Burleith, be of sound mind and stay alert. Remember that there’s a reason your townhouse was affordable, okay?


  • clevelanddave

    Try installing a camera, with a little red flashing light…

  • These guys sound hideous. No wonder they’re mugging people.

  • Their hangout is directly opposite my house. I’ve never seen any crime being committed, but I’ll keep an eye out in future.

  • that is huge area you have described. without giving up your location are you able to narrow at least the general area of their hangout?

    I am assuming they go after the wonderland traffic which would be Kenyon?

  • lbd is right. Play classical music.

  • Sounds like an opportunity for a vigilante sting. One lone person pretending to be drunk & walking home from a bar, followed by a dozen non-drunk persons with pool sticks ready to beat the living Hell out of anyone who molests them.

    • What ever happened to cops using undercover officers to bust up these rings? I think Columbia Hts/Petworth isn’t policed enough. Too many nuisance thugs hanging out in neighborhoods…

  • I live in that zone. Never see anything happen, but am almost always on guard. I take a taxi home whenever coming in at night and ask the driver to wait until I get into the house. For a fare that may be about equal the the last drink I had at a bar, it’s worth it. I think I’ll start using cabs from wonderland now that i’ve read this.

  • That strip of Georgia down from Howard until Park View is scary – there was a mugging recently too. Just take the bus or a cab.

  • Until now – specifically, the headline for this thread – I had never drawn the connection between being drunk and alone (i.e., having impaired judgment and physical ability, with no one else to look out for you) and being vulnerable to criminal acts.
    Who says you can’t learn anything from these posts.

    It would have been more helpful to have the description of the muggers given by the victims. It’s not clear – at least to me – that the OP’s description of two of the men who hang out on her block matches the description of the muggers. That’s not stated anywhere.

    • Sorry I should have clarified that these were the same descriptions from two of the victims. (maybe not as detailed to include height but definitely the dreads and freckle marks and lighter complexion for the one guy) I also should have clarified we are not cops or vigilantes so there are probably other crimes they have committed where we weren’t around or friends with the victim

  • Cabs are not much safer, particularly if you’re alone and/or a woman.

    Best thing is to get a ride from a sober friend, or not get drunk in the first place (easier said than done, I know). I would never put myself at the mercy of a cab driver late at night when there aren’t as many people around, especially if I were in an intoxicated state. Many of the women I know have been sexually assaulted doing that. Myself included. If you must take a cab find someone to ride with you.

    Think about it– would you hitchhike late at night, while drunk? So why get in any stranger’s car?

    • Cabs are not much safer than walking home alone at 2am? Really? I bet you have stats to back that up, huh. And MANY of the women you know have been sexually assaulted by cab drivers? This might win for most ridiculous comment I’ve read on PoP.

      • If you and your friend’s experience is true than I’m very sorry you went through this.

        Everyone, please be mindful of throwing around the word ‘assault’ vs. ‘harassment’. Neither of them should be taken lightly but there is a big difference between the two.

        • Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I think driving me to an empty parking lot, grabbing my arm, and sticking his hand up my skirt qualifies as harrassment. If I hasdn’t gotten away things could have gone further, who knows. I’d only had one drink that night but it was pretty late.

          And yes, similar things have happen to most of the young, attractive women I know who take cabs in the DC area. It’s a sad fact of life here. I haven’t taken a cab since 2006– cabs might be convenient and easy, but there really are safer ways to get home.

        • “Assault” is only threat but “Battery” is the actual physical content…perhaps you shouldn’t be throwing words around either

      • The police have a habit of treating the woman as the victim and discouraging her from reporting it. Otherwise we’d see more of a trend.

    • Because the “stranger” is registered and licensed to take people from one place to another in their car? Maybe you got molested in a cab, but I seriously doubt “many” of your friends did. Unless of course your friends are as made up as the number of sexual assaults by cabbies that you are claiming.

    • huh, stranger’s car = cab? in that case, never take the bus, or the metro: stranger’s van = bus/metro.

    • “or not get drunk in the first place (easier said than done, I know)”
      This is EXTRAORDINARILY as easily done as said. Is someone holding you down while pouring drinks down your throat? Drinking responsibly is a hallmark of maturity.
      I am in no way blaming the victims here, but that statement is just ridiculous.

      • I’m not sure it matters that much if you’re drunk or not. Intoxication affects situational awareness to some degree, but most of the criminal activity happens during the “drinking hours” so I’m not sure you’re much safer taking a cab sober late at night.

      • I agree, actually, but the discussion is about how to get home from a bar when you’re alone. Presumably a lot of people who find themselves in that situation have had been drinking. It’s true that if everyone took your advice and didn’t drink this wouldn’t be an issue.

    • I’ve been harassed by cab drivers but only in foreign countries. If I felt unsafe hailing a cab on the street, I would call one from a trusted company. At least if there was a hint of any problems, you could report it to the company and there would be a record of who was dispatched.

    • While most cabs in DC are safe, I and many of my girlfriends have had creepy experiences alone in taxi cabs after drinking late at night. I’ve woken up the next morning and thought, “Wait, did that driver REALLY say that to me?!” While not “assault” it is definitely scary (especially because of the recent string of real assaults on women by cab drivers that was reported a few months ago) and makes me no longer think of cabs as a safe haven late at night. A friend of mine had a cab driver forcibly try to kiss her.

      I’d still choose a cab over walking home alone, though. I think the best lesson is not to get so drunk that you can’t take care of yourself unless you KNOW you have someone help you get home (and this is something I need to be better about myself!).

      • Exactly! I just don’t drink any more than a single drink when I go out anymore. I’ve had a few scary experiences (only with cabs, but I live in a neighborhood where it’s pretty safe to walk around) and it’s not worth putting my life in danger for a few drinks.

    • Wow, lots of love for cabbies today.

      There are other ways you can get in trouble if you take a cab home. Let’s say the cab driver tries to pull a fast one and says you owe him $40 for a $10 cab ride (not uncommon in these situations). Let’s say you’re sober enough to know you don’t owe him that much, but when you dispute it he calls the cops and says he has a drunk passenger who won’t pay. Guess who the cops throw in jail? It happened to me and it happened to my cousin. I think I’d rather be mugged on the street than go through that again. Yes, cabs are regulated, but not as stringently as the bus and metro systems, and it does seem like a lot of cab drivers have a screw or two loose. I wouldn’t take one at 2am again. When my girlfriend’s out late I’ll drive across town to pick her up– a small inconvenience for ensuring she’s safe.

  • Come on people, take photos of these guys and post them on the PoP Forum under “DC Thug Watch”

  • I also like the idea of piping classical music. What I don’t understand is why this kind of loitering is acceptable and allowed (are the laws really that lenient?). As a single female, I would be terrified of having a group of sketchy men standing outside my home all hours of the day and night. A friend of mine was sexually harassed (and even chased once) by a similar group of loiterers who were hanging out on her street non-stop. A few months of that, and she rightfully left Brookland. We shouldn’t have to put up with that crap.

  • Why does DC not have loitering laws? Seems to me like the 6 to 7 guys are loitering, I really just don’t understand why that is no a crime in this city?

    • Please understand that no law prohibiting loitering, and only loitering, in public has been found to be constitutional. In America you can stand on a street corner, and you can assemble on a street corner, it is not a crime. What other places have, and DC does not, are loitering + “something else laws.” The something else is different depending on the jurisdiction but usually involves for the purposes of committing a crime. You can now debate amongst yourselves why DC has never passed such a law.

  • I’m sad to know that this is going on down the street, but glad to have the info.

    Have the OPs reached out to Commander Kishter? I don’t feel like this has been on the MPD3d listserv yet and I wonder if there are any updates on plans to address this particular spot.

  • I thought Non e Mus was perhaps being sarcastic.

  • i don’t think classical music is going to do the trick. you are going to need the big guns. try The Captain ‘n’ Tennille. If “muskrat love” doesn’t run them off, nothing will.

  • My neck of Columbia Heights (Holmead and Spring) was crawling with cop cars last night, circling the blocks like they were looking for someone. Hoping it’s not related to this shitty trend of muggings in Pleasant Plains. Ward 1 needs more cops on foot patrol during the drunks-walking-home hours.

  • Better solution – Paul Kersey pretends to stumble home drunk and eliminates two wasted lives from our city streets. ensuring us all a safer stumble home tomorrow.

  • More undercovers (or citizens with back up) walking home. Draw them out, it won’t be hard..think bait car 😉

    Plus when word gets out they’ll think twice before attempting to mug given the impending beat down or arrest.

  • A cab is safer than walking only because it’s faster. Several years ago I took a cab home to Columbia Heights after working late. As I was paying, three guys ran up to cab, I assumed because they wanted a ride. The next thing I knew, one guy stuck a gun through the driver’s window and demanded all his cash. Then he noticed me as an afterthought and robbed me too.

    As for people hanging on the street, my neighbors and I are fairly vigilant about calling the cops when we see groups of kids casing passers by. This behavior is not difficult to recognize, and the cops have been good about responding, especially after receiving several calls.

  • Thank you OP for the information. I live on this block of Kenyon and will certainly be more cautious. I’ve seen those men around but just always assumed they lived there.

  • I live on this block(Kenyon), while I haven’t seen anything further than the drinking and smoking, I have seen the cops in unmarked cars searching them on a nearly biweekly basis. So obviously MPD is aware of something going on but just haven’t been able to catch them in the act.

    They are literally ALWAYS on the street, can’t miss ’em, I know their faces well.

  • Does anyone know who owns and neglects to lock that metal garage between 600 Irving and Kenyon? It is also a magnet, when not for men, it is for rats and garbage dumping. I did see three cop cars surround it once but no arrests..

    • I hate that garage. It makes for turning around the corner even more dangerous as it blocks the limited visibility already there completely with the open door.

  • I live on Kenyon and I think I know the guys you are talking about. It’s very possibly the same people that we have had issues with breaking into our building and using it as a hangout. I’ve spoken to two police officers, and the second time asked about a community liaison officer who will meet with citizens to discuss security concerns then take them back to their section to resolve. If this is the same group of guys it might help teaming up to get the problem resolved. They just redistricted, and our neighborhood police are in the U street station; I believe his name is Marcos.

  • Maybe the time to be passive for all of us is over. Its dangerous but this is my home, my family, my hood, not theirs. Make it known you WILL snitch, you will call out the cops–even if you have to fabricate an assault on yourself or property. Most of these folks are cowards, half of them of zooted up on weed. I film them, I put flyers n the doors of their mama’s houses (which is usually where they live and if it aint, then somebody’s on notice) Unless we get some common sense gun laws (and a normal citizen gets to blow one of these characters out of his knock-off Jordans) or more aggressive street enforcement–no, not Giuliani type stuff, just common sense no nonsense flatfooting–this will continue.

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