Dear PoPville – What is basic DC common sense?

Photo by PoPville flickr user thisisbossi

Dear PoPville,

Basically, I’m a recent transplant to DC (Dupont / Logan Circle / U Street area) and obviously have been attune to the recent crime alerts, both on your site and a few others.

It seems like your readership has a pretty good grasp of places and streets to avoid but as someone new to the area, I honestly have no idea.

It seems like typical street smarts don’t always cut it these days, so basically I was wondering if you’d maybe open some comments to a basic field guild of “DC common sense,” if only to keep ignorant types like myself out of your crime report ranks.

129 Comment

  • Use earbuds sparingly, and be alert and vigilant. Most attacks require surprise.

    • Grow a massive beard. Nobody messes with a man with a real beard. If you’re a woman with a beard, that’s even more amazing.

  • If you absolutely need to check something on your phone on the metro, don’t do it near a door and hold it close with both hands.

  • If you are on the subway stay on the Red line between Union Station and Shady Grove, Maryland. If you are on the Blue or Orange line do not go past Eastern Market (Capitol Hill) toward the Potomac Avenue stop and beyond; stay in NW DC and points in Virginia. Do not use the Green line or the Yellow line. These rules are even more important at night. There is of course nothing wrong with many other areas; but you don’t know where you are, so you should not explore them.

    • Avoid the yellow and green line? Don’t you think you’re being a bit dramatic?

      • me

        Made me think of that DC Metro rap by Ramy or whatever his name is… when he makes the face at the green line car showing up. Hilarious and stupid at the same time, because people *actually* feel that way about the green line. Come on.

    • Excerpt from “The Teabagger’s Guide to DC”, I believe.

    • This sounds familiar…

    • Yes, by all means, NEVER go above Union Station on the red line. The killing fields of Takoma Park are to be avoided at all costs.

    • Is this a joke?

    • How does one learn about a new city without exploring? Should we all just stay in our little comfort zone radius and never venture outside of that, forming our opinions based on what we read and hear from others?

    • WOW. You must live a pretty sheltered life.

    • I can’t tell if this is a joke post or not. The Red line past Union Station is scary? Like physically on the train? I can understand not wandering around outside the Brookland station if you don’t know what you’re doing, but of course the train is plenty safe. I don’t think the Takoma Park hippies or the Silver Spring hipsters or the rich ppl commuting in from Glenmont are more of a threat than anyone else on the metro lines.

      • Brookland? Not NYA or RIA or FT? Not saying that there is anything wrong with those stops, but calling Brookland out of that lineup as the stop to “know what your doing” seems a bit much. I’d say you should “know what your doing” at any stop. The only time I’ve been hassled on the train was getting off at Wheaton by suburban punks.

    • either this commenter is trolling for joking – you asked a sincere question so you should expect a sincere answer — trust me, it’s not this!

    • Are you spewing the “advice” you got from the Restoring Honor rally a couple of years back?

    • I’ve lived on the Green/Yellow line for the past 3 and a half years. People should feel free to use those lines, as they contain wonderful neighborhoods and culture. Since the OP lives in U st/Logan Circle it might be hard not to use the Green line.

      Also, it’s kind of hard to go to a Nationals game without using the Green line.

    • don’t take this advice. being scared is not the same as being vigilant.

    • (1) While you’re getting to know the city, don’t walk around at night with earbuds. If you have an iPhone, be discrete.
      (2) Get packages delivered to work, or leave instructions about how/where to hide them for your mailperson.
      (3) Bars on windows are great. You want them no matter what part of the city you’re in.
      (4) If you have a bike, use a heavy-duty lock and keep it inside when possible. If you have a car and are parking it on the street, use a steering wheel lock.
      (5) Florida Ave and North Capitol is one really sketchy intersection that I try my best to avoid unless I’m with lots of other people.
      (6) The primary difference between a “bad” neighborhood and a nice one is how surprised you’ll be when someone steals your shit.

  • Have a car? Empty it out completely. Nope, it’s not even okay to leave your gym bag full of sweaty workout clothes in the back seat. If anything at all is in your car, someone will see it as an opportunity for a smash-and-grab, and it’ll cost you a new window at the very least.

    Is someone who is walking close to you making you uncomfortable? Even if you feel that it’s irrational, go ahead and listen to that instinct and cross the street or turn the corner or walk into a store. Always, always better safe than sorry.

    • Not long after I got to DC, I left a cheapass briefcase in the back seat because I was sure no one would be dumb enough to steal it. Getting a window repaired is a real pain. I found bits of broken glass for weeks.

  • 1. Don’t make yourself a target. As tempting as it may be to flash around your iPhone/iPad/Android whatever…it’s still worth a lot of money to someone. If you’re walking around at night, put it away and don’t take it out even if someone asks for the time. Same goes on the metro.

    Similarly, it’s a good idea to look like you know what’s going on around you. Don’t be staring off somewhere or looking like you’re daydreaming. Muggings, etc require an element of surprise.

    2. As quaint as some neighborhoods may seem, ALWAYS lock your doors (with a deadbolt), even if you’re home. If you must hand out a spare to someone, make sure they’re a trusted friend or family member. If you live in a building, don’t open the door for randos.

    3. In most areas, owning a car is more hassle than it’s worth. If you must own a car, get a parking sticker for your neighborhood and keep all valuables in the trunk so they’re not a target.

    4. Bikes are fun and all, but if you own one DO NOT keep it locked on the street. It will either be picked clean or just stolen. CaBi is the way to go.

  • Very funny, YZ. But who said poster was a tea partier.

  • Don’t leave anything of value, or perceived value, exposed in your parked car. Your window will be smashed and it will be stolen. Don’t leave anything of value, or perceived value, out on top of the table while you eat. Someone will run by and steal it. If you drive, avoid cyclists. If you cycle, avoid motorists. When using metro, stand on the right side of the escalator and walk on the left.

    • Amen. Stand on the right!!!

    • +100 for standing on the right, also please if you have a purse, carry it on your right if possible, hard for people to get around those bigger purses. Also don’t stand in front of doors, don’t walk diagonally and don’t walk 5 people wide on sidewalks.

  • I try to walk purposefully and confidently. Hold your head up high and act like you belong. Don’t look lost. But don’t walk too fast and act paranoid or afraid. Don’t use your iPhone/smart phone for extended amount of time (or at all, if you can help it). Don’t use your earphones. If I’m going out to a bar night, I don’t bring my purse. After dark, try tol walk home with friends. If you have to walk alone, stay on busy commercial streets instead of quiet residential streets. If you’re going home drunk, try and take a cab.

    There’s really no way of completely eliminating the risk of bring a victim of crime, no matter what you do or what neighborhood you’re in. Using “common sense” and street smarts is just about minimizing that risk.

  • Couldn’t agree more about the car. Empty bags are just as much a target as full ones. I see smash and grab evidence almost once a week when I’m out walking the dog.

    Also be vigalent of where you place your phone/ipad/purse when you’re eating on the sidewalk. Is it redundant to call it a snatch and grab?

    Also agree on locked doors/bikes off of the street. As in, no duh.

  • I’ve been here two years and still whenever I ask this questions, I’m told “it depends on the block”. Except nobody who says that ever knows which blocks. I didn’t know about the 1400 block of R Street being a sketchy one until last week.

    • Same here. I thought I lived in one of the best neighborhoods (Logan) but it’s on the crime map more and more often. Makes me sad. I’m looking into mace/whistles/etc.

      • I think part of the reason that it’s on the crime map more and more often is that so many more people are living/passing-through there every day than was the case years back. So, your risk of being a victim of crime there might not have actually increased (or may even have decreased).

        • 90’s era Logan was crack circle central. The circle was all crack/heroin and hookers.

          It’s alot safer now.

    • You’ve never noticed that police car that sits out there 24 hours a day on that little side street between 14’th and 15’th? That was my first clue…

  • Not safety related but, when reloading your smart trip card with cash use the black cash only machines, not the credit card machines. Can’t tell you how many people I see holding up the line at the credit card machine, trying to feed it dollars while multiple cash only machines are empty. So annoying.

  • If someone claiming to be in the military approaches you with a story about being stranded and needing money to get to some base, don’t believe him.
    If someone with a baby approaches you and claim that their other child is sick with cancer in the hospital and she needs money (and look! She even has a bogus website set up for him), don’t believe her.
    If a random college kid with a clipboard starts waving at you like you’re long lost friends, run the other direction.

    • brookland_rez

      Call me heartless, but I don’t give anybody anything period. There may be a legitimate person in need out there, but most are scammers.

    • Allison

      Lol to “If a random college kid with a clipboard starts waving at you like you’re long lost friends, run the other direction.”

      Those International Child Whatever (legit or not) guys have been working the sidewalk in front of Starbucks across from DCUSA *so* long. It’s exasperating. No, I don’t want to hear a joke. No, I don’t want to talk to you about whatever disingenuous reason you can find to yank me off the sidewalk. No. No. and still no. Yes, I did just talk to your colleague standing five feet down the sidewalk, and the one before that, and the one before that. Jeez it’s like a charity barricade!

  • when in a restuarant/bar do not hang your purse on your chair or put it on the ground next to you. I was at a nice restaurant and hung my purse on my chair. My wallet was stolen.






  • brookland_rez

    Don’t walk around texting not watching where you’re going. It’s just too easy an opportunity. I’m not a criminal but it’s so annoying especially when they almost walk into me that I’m tempted to reach over and knock their phone on the ground. Nothing says I’m stupid and unaware of my surroundings more than that.

  • If you have a front gate with bars (in addition to your front door), always lock it, even when you are home. I had an attempted break in (in the Dupont/Logan/U Street neighborhood) while I was home this year, and the police think that was the only thing that foiled the robber. Apparently, would-be robbers will go around checking doors up and down a street, because so many people don’t lock their gate, which makes it much easier for them to get into the house.

    • By “gate” you mean “security door,” right? (I.e., door-sized thing with iron bars that goes in front of your regular front door?)

  • If you’re going to stand on the Metro escalators, do it to the RIGHT side. Or face the dreaded Commuter Wrath.

  • Also, if you live in a basement apartment, either leave your outside light on all night or put it on a motion sensor. A dark alcove like that invites mischief, no matter what neighborhood you’re in.

    • On our way home from 9:30 on Saturday night, at around 1 am, we observed a very drunk young woman (early 20s), who was alone, leaning against the street sign for 11th and T for support, typing away on her i-Phone, with her extra large purse dangling off her shoulder. We asked if she needed any help and advised her that she was putting herself in danger. She said she was fine and that she only lived a block away. Against our better judgment, we left her there. We hope she’s ok, and we advise that you do none of the above.

    • … and invites pee.

      • Allison

        Or worse, poop. Nothing like waking up to human poo on your stoop. Poop stoop.

        • that happened to my neighbor…it was horrifying.
          but funny how all the other neighbors came out to look at it…

          Human animals..absolute animals.

          oh and DC common sense?… it’s the same for everywhere…just use it.

  • anon. gardener

    This may seem a little obvious, but I’d say get to know your neighbors. Including the people who regularly hang out on or walk through your street. It’s easy to get isolated, even in a small city like DC. Your neighbors are a wealth of information, and it will be easier to spot unusual situations/people.

    Common sense not exclusive to DC: Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets, and keep your head up. Alert people are less attractive targets.

  • Not so mach safety-related but along the lines of getting along and being a part of your neighborhood, even if you don’t plan to be there forever – Say ‘Hello’ to your neighbors as you walk around, or if you’re sitting on your front porch in the evening and they walk past. (Sit on your porch in the evening!) Take an interest. Don’t always be in a rush. Look people in the eye. Don’t pretend to be instant best friends, but don’t act like your neighbors and you are on/from different planets.

    • Don’t just say hi to your neighbors. Pay attention when walking down any street, and if you don’t nod and say ‘hi’ (or ‘hey’) automatically DO NOT FAIL to return such a greeting from others. Omissions like that can get you jumped by way of a perceived slight.

      • Not great advice for a young woman, who could put herself at greater risk by acknowledging attention from everyone.

        • I agree. Women have to tread this line very carefully. Some men test women by seeing if they feel the need to be friendly to people who are clearly being creeps because they’ll be much more likely to allow themselves to get into a situation where they can become a victim.

  • -those dudes standing around are often not waiting for a bus. especially when they are not at a bus stop.
    -keep the interior light of your car off.
    -when parking, wait a moment and look around before you get out
    -make eye contact with people.
    -never trust a hard luck story.
    -the guys selling Street Smart newspapers are almost always legit.
    -never pull out your wallet for someone
    -keep your phone as out of sight as you can
    -talk to your neighbors.
    -if dudes are hanging outside a liquor store, the residential streets nearby and the alleys are often sketchier.
    -when filling gas, lock your doors. never ever ever ever leave the keys in your car, or walk away from your car with the door open.
    -wear shoes you can run in, always.
    -get a large dc map and to try and get a sense of what hoods are where.

    • “when filling gas, lock your doors. never ever ever ever leave the keys in your car, or walk away from your car with the door open.”


      Once, when I was in college in another town, I was being followed home and I stopped to call the cops/taxi across from a gas station. The creep then climbed into the back of a woman’s car who went inside to pay. If the cop didn’t go over to question him, she would’ve been his victim instead of me.

  • Don’t use headphones, leave your phone in your pocket, look around you regularly, stay out of alleys (and most parks) after dark and just be aware of your surroundings. Cross the street if you see something that makes you nervous. You can easily train yourself to make a habit of these things and not walk around in a constant state of paranoia and/or fear.
    Also, if you see something strange, possibly illegal etc, call 911. That’s what it’s there for. Don’t dither, don’t write in to PoP 8 hrs later asking for advice, don’t walk away and do nothing… and let the professionals sort it out.

  • I agree with others about knowing where you are, trusting your gut and sometimes being heartless. Some other rules I try to live by:

    – Cross the street for any reason. I often cross before I even get a look at who’s coming my way. Don’t even think about how the other person feels.

    – Don’t talk to anyone after dark especially on a secluded street. “Do you have the time?” “Do you have a cigarrette?”…..silence and just keep walking.

    – On a quiet street, especially after dark, look around you. Every 30 seconds or so, take a 360 degree look.

    – Obviously don’t wear headphones or look at your phone unless you know it’s probably OK. Just know you’re at risk when you do.

    – Fear all teenagers.

    – Introduce yourself to your neighbors, including store owners, church folks, etc.

    – Spend a little time on your stoop or the equivalent and get to know your block.

    – Call the cops when you see sh*t happen. A lot of people don’t.

  • Avoid Pennsylvania Ave SW from First to Fourth from June 1 to August 31 from the hours of 5:00 PM to 10:00PM Monday – Friday.

    It’s called intern season and unless you’re 30 or under or a total lech old creep and former staffer like me…avoid like the plague.

  • Buy a club for your car and always use it. Choose a neighborhood that has stores, restaurants, and schools, in addition to houses – the more foot traffic in your neighborhood, the less likely you are to be alone when you are in need of help. Don’t live on the same block as a liquor store. Smile and make eye contact with people.

  • This isn’t crime-related, but if you want to stay safe don’t use your phone (talking or typing, with or without earbuds) while walking, running, biking, or driving. You’re liable to get into an accident (especially around certain intersections like 16th and U) and if you’re driving you could easily kill someone by driving distracted. There are enough distracted, aggressive, and/or incompetent drivers in DC that even non-distracted pedestrians and cyclists are in some danger, so stay alert.

  • I’m always a huge advocate for walking along the most well lit / well traveled streets, even if it takes me extra time, and even if it’s broad daylight. If given a choice between a very quiet, unlit “safe” neighborhood (ie: anywhere in Chevy Chase), or a more well-traveled, “sketchy” neighborhood, I’d choose the latter any day. But that’s me.

    Similarly, don’t assume that because you’re in a conventionally “safe” neighborhood, you’re free from the possibility of crime. I know 4 people who have been mugged at gun-point in DC, and 3 of them were within 2 blocks of Eastern Market at the time.

  • If you have a car, when you’re driving or when you’re getting gas ALWAYS KEEP YOUR DOORS LOCKED. Even if you pay for gas at the pump, lock your door. Don’t walk down the street with your phone constantly at your ear. Always lock your front door, don’t leave anything in your car – nothing at all. When on Metro always get in the car with the driver.

  • – Stand to the right, walk on the left
    – Be aware of the block ahead of you so you know to cross the street before you have to pass by the weirdo.
    – Just because it’s daylight doesn’t mean you can’t be a crime victim.
    – If someone says hello/good morning respond in kind and keep walking.
    -Do not leave ANYTHING visable in your car. Not even an empty trash bag.
    -Your alarm system only works when it is on and only for those parts (doors/windows) that it monitors.
    – Even when you are at home, people might break in to steal stuff.
    – Even your thrift store bike can get stolen.
    – Try to avoid using/playing with your phone on city streets or near the door of a metro car.
    -Don’t leave your purse in your shopping cart. Even if there is no wallet in it, and even if you are only a few steps away.
    -Figure out how you are getting home before you leave. Know when the last train leaves the nearest station.
    -If someone says they are hungry, don’t give them any money. Offer to get them food instead. You can’t eat money.
    -Get some damned drapes/blinds and use them. Stop showing off how big your tv is and how many sleek electronics you have littered around the house.

    • Nice point on the showing off of flat screens, etc. One important addition to that – when you leave an empty box from the new 55″ LED TV you just got out on the curb on trash day, you are telling the world you have a sweet new TV to steal. Cut the thing up and put it in a bag. (The box, not TV.)

  • For all the fashionistas out there with $1000 bags. Don’t. Carry a cheap satchel/ bag/case across your shoulder for your daily commute. If you go out at night with your designer bag go out in a group.

  • Register your smart trip.
    Don’t plan on using metro on the weekend during construction season.
    Don’t send checks/card to your house – pick them up at a local bank branch.
    Its always cheaper to take a cab than replace phone/wallet/cards/cash/life.
    Sign-up for the crime/traffic text alerts.
    If you are out late and drunk, take a cab.
    Watch out for the stretch between Nats Stadium and waterfront station after an evenening game.
    If you ride a bike, register it and use two locks.

    • I’m sorry, when exactly is WMATA construction season? Aside from a temporary break during the Cherry Blossom Festival, it seems to be nearly 52 weekends a year.

  • ladies, don’t wear those stupid platform stripper shoes when going out at night. it makes you look like a wounded animal, a big fat target. also, it makes you look stupid.

  • All of this stuff reminds me why I am trying to leave DC this year/next. I agree with these precautions, but seriously, I have never felt more unsafe anywhere in the United States than I have in DC.

    • honestly, that’s your own problem. I’ve lived here for 12 years and (cross my fingers) haven’t been, nor have I known anyone that’s been the victim of a theft or violent crime. I’ve only known one person whose house was broken into, but that was because they left a street level window open. just take whatever precautions you can and live your life. those of you paralyzed by anxiety and fear aren’t making yourselves any safer. if you really want to protect yourself, don’t drive. you have a much higher chance of something terrible happening to you in a car than you do just living in dc.

      • Wrong? Biking or walking is a higher risk, no question. Or surviving a wilding event with the bored teens.

        Where’s Neener?

        • My point was that you’re much more likely to get maimed in a car accident then you are in an attack walking down the street.

      • That’s amazing as I’ve lived in Columbia Heights for three years and personally know three people that have been mugged. One was really stupid and was beaten up, one was held up at gun point for $5, and one was thrown on the ground at 7 in the morning walking to work not to mention that someone did actually poop in my back basement entrance. In addition, the people in my apartment building have had four bikes stolen, my neighbor got his scooter stolen, I reported bikes being cut off of a car bike rack, and reported a person dropping off a stolen vehicle. Honestly, there is a lot of crime and violence in DC and I really doubt that people can really argue that but with a little luck and vigilance, you most likely won’t have any problems. You just have to be aware and knowledgeable about your surroundings but a lot of it is just chance especially in neighborhoods around Columbia Heights.

      • How it is “my own problem” when all these people are clearly posting justifiable precautions you have to take when living in this area? I have actually never been a victim of violent crime and go east of the river quite frequently, but if the statistics and stories don’t give you pause then you aren’t thinking.

    • I have lived in DC over 40yrs, even worked late hours many of them. DC is is no worse than many other urban areas. BUT, regardless of where you live, using common sense is the # 1 tool in surviving any where!

  • It looks like most of the good advice has already been given, but I’ll add one that I don’t think has been mentioned (apologies if it already has and I missed it):

    If you don’t live in a building with a front desk to sign for packages, get your packages sent to work/to a friend who does live in such a building if at all possible. This is particularly important during holiday season, but should be practiced year round. There was a rash of thefts of UPS packages around the Hill last December because a group followed the UPS truck around and took boxes after they were left in front of houses/in the lobbies of smaller buildings.

  • +1 for headphones and phone out. I was snatched and grabbed while texting and listening to Pandora from my Android with headphones. You will get an uncomfortable feeling that someone is lingering to close to you, and by the time you react they have snatched your phone. This was at 3pm in broad daylight.

    Do not let anyone get close to you longer than it would take for them to pass you in either direction. If someone is lingering by you for even a few seconds they might be getting ready for a snatch and grab.

    If you do have your phone out and someone gets close to you for any reason (what time is it, can I ask you a question, excuse me sir, etc.) immediately put it in your pocket.

  • It’s sweet irony that all the people who would immediately jump on a newbie for not “knowing DC” spend most of the thread trashing tea partiers and making sarcastic remarks about which areas of the city are in fact risky.

  • Don’t wear a turban or fake mustache and serve ethnic food from a truck. Veeerry dangerous in DC.

  • User fewer adverbs, basically.

  • Allison

    If you feel like you’re being followed, you’re probably right.

  • +1 for calling 911 to report suspicious activity. Calling 311 will only mean you get re-routed to 911 – so just start there. Suspicious activity includes people hanging out on a curb all day staring down anyone who walks by. Don’t be afraid to report it – the worst that happens is that the cops swing through the neighborhood and check it out.

  • Beware people wearing baggy clothes. Some bad people will wear very tight pants, this is to confuse you, beware them too.
    If you see someone walking a pit bull, he is a murderer and so is his dog.
    If your neighbor is too loud, call the police do not attempt to talk to them.

    In all seriousness, say hello to everybody. This is actually a pretty friendly town. Ususally the worst that will happen when you smile and say hello to a group of teenagers in the corner, is that they will clown you for being a dork after you have passed.

    • “In all seriousness, say hello to everybody. This is actually a pretty friendly town. Ususally the worst that will happen when you smile and say hello to a group of teenagers in the corner, is that they will clown you for being a dork after you have passed.”

      This is terrible advice. I’ve been in many situations where saying hello to people would only open me up to harassment or worse.

      • I disagree. Too many people isolate themselves. Saying hello, good morning/evening, etc. isn’t “opening” you up to anything.

        I have lived in DC for 8 years and I don’t feel unsafe (this thread is making me feel that way though). Use common sense… most crimes are petty and involve stealing bikes, phones, etc. This is no worse than any other urban area. I have had friends who were constantly paranoid all the time… they also never lived in a city before.

  • In the Summer, crime spikes, most notably from juveniles with little or nothing to do. Beware teenagers on bikes riding around aimlessly, they will ride by and steal your phone/clutch/purse/etc. right out of your hand and ride just fast enough to gloat on their way across town.

    Don’t hold the door for people you don’t know, period. Also don’t open the door for someone just because they look “trustworthy” and simply can’t “figure out” the call box. Oldest trick in the book.

    Don’t cut thru a park at night, no matter what. No worse place to be than alone, in the dark and out of earshot of a street, if you get jumped.

    Don’t assume because the District Police shop is X-blocks away, you’re safe. Take Adams Morgan for example. You wander off 18th or Columbia Rd into the “drunk hours” of the morning, you’re asking for it.

    Totally agree with everyone that said to acknowledge someone, eye to eye, especially if they speak to you. Particularly helpful if you are a “gentrifier.” Just not a great idea to act entitled, and you run the risk of not only not having an ally, but possibly someone that won’t even assist, if you needed it at some point.

    A neighbor helped save my life because they knew me, and I spoke to them when I saw them. I don’t want to think about what would have happened had they not recognized me, and knew to help.

  • Listen to everyone on this posting and you will be a bug-eyed pepper-spraying crackpot. Heed none of their warnings and you are a target. You have to find a balance. Welcome to the city. Learn your neighborhood. Meet your neighbors.
    Have fun out there kid

  • Just know that if 4 guys get out a car and start beating your *&^, there is a slight possibility they’ll be caught and brought in for justice. At least we don’t live in Mexico where the gangs behead instead of just beat the locals.

  • Expect safety, all the time, from your fellow citizens, regardless of eye color. The real boogeyman is the health care lobby.

  • Bookman- Thx for the tip about the call box…actually didn’t know that as a scamming scheme…(i NEVER let anyone in, however…you don’t live here!)

    I get home from work late at night and take jewelry off before getting on the metro, and really try to keep any kinds of flash to a minimum. I’m paranoid to the point (had a friend in the ER after she got mugged) after where I change out of my work clothes and well, try to look as cheap as possible when I’m on my way home. Rarely use my phone on the train as well.

    Avoid those kids claiming to be from the Boys and Girls Club on the metro…I just say no and look away. They are AWFUL.

  • if you’re walking somewhere you feel uncomfortable, before you set out put some cash in a separate pocket so if you do get mugged you have something to get home with. If you do get mugged, throw your bag away from you and run away. Remembering the attacker’s shoes is better than clothing for making police reports. Walk in a pair or group whenever possible. If you’re going to get a dog and will be walking it at night, try for a bigger dog, and teach it to bark on command. If you live on the ground floor or basement, it’s safest to have bars on your windows, but make sure there is a way to open at least some of them from the inside in case of fire.

    And some transportation-related advice: Stick shifts get stolen much more rarely since thieves don’t know how to drive them. Be really careful when crossing streets; even when you have the crossing signal a lot of cars and buses will make right turns into the crosswalk without looking for pedestrians. Don’t jaywalk, especially at night or in bad weather. Don’t run on metro platforms, especially when it’s raining (the tiles are really slippery!).

    • also, make sure if you carry a purse that it zips shut. Forget about getting mugged–I *lost* my wallet twice because it fell out of my bag. And because I am stupid.

      And don’t carry so many packages that you’d have a hard time running away or throwing someone your wallet if you get mugged. It’s a lot easier to let go of a granny cart and go than to put down 3 tote bags and a backpack and a purse.

      I’ve also heard that people who put pictures of kids in their wallet are a lot more likely to have wallets returned.

      Finally, scan your driver’s license or at least email the number on it to yourself. If you lose your license or it gets stolen, you can order a new one online from the DMV…but only if you have the number! If you don’t, you have to go in person.

    • “If you’re going to get a dog and will be walking it at night, try for a bigger dog, and teach it to bark on command.”

      But don’t use “bark” or “speak” as the command to get him to bark – not all that intimidating if you can get your dog to “speak” for a mugger. Train him to bark at a command like “guard” or “watch.”

  • halfsmoke

    1. Have all packages delivered to your place of work.
    2. Diss any kid that walks up to you with a milkcrate full of cookies.
    3. Do not give any money to the woman in Chinatown claiming her car has run out of gas.
    4. Burn your Boston Red Sox Hat. Don’t let me see you wearing that shit in Capitol Hill.
    5. Burn any Dallas Cowboy gear you own as well.
    6. Do not give any money to the people that panhandle in front of the 7-11 on Barracks Row.
    7. Take care of the treebox in front of your place of residence.
    8. If you are curbing your dog, keep it out of any tree box that looks like someone has taken time to make it look nice…even if your dog just wants to take a piss.
    9. Go to Literri’s, order a basic hard-roll sub, eat it.
    10. Drive nice. Be wary of any MD tags during the morning rush. They are idiots.
    11. Learn how to pick crabs. Eat them all summer.

    • I’ve seen #3 at the cheap gas station near the Kennedy Center and the gas station at 7 and 395 in VA.

    • “Curb your dog” actually means control your dog – don’t let the dog pee/poop there. So if you are curbing your dog, you are indeed keeping it out of the nice tree box.

  • I’m a woman, this is the first big city I’ve lived in, I’ve been here since 1999 and *knock on wood* I have yet to be a victim of a crime. I also have never lived in any of the trendy and touted as “safe” neighborhoods.

    Things I do: I try not to travel alone, but when I am riding the Metro/walking alone, I put my ID, keys, money/credit cards on my person so that if someone tries to rob me, I can give them the purse, iPod, grocery bags etc and hopefully they will go away.

    I am alert at all times when I’m walking down a street, familiar or unfamiliar.

    I make eye contact with people so I can remember what they look like if needed.

    I cross the street if I feel uncomfortable about a gaggle of people I’m approaching or approaching me.

    As for my car, I’ve had a roadster for several years and it’s never been stolen or broken into *knocks on wood again* but it’s manual shift so that may be the key and it’s little so there is no room inside for things to be left that might interest a thief.

    Welcome and enjoy your stay in the nation’s capital, it really is a great city!

  • Never open your door unless you absolutely know who is knocking. Even if you have to look out the kitchen window or upstairs window. Don’t open your door to any strangers. There have been lots of robberies tied to folks opening their doors to what they thought were repairmen, etc.

    • Yes, but also, don’t pretend you aren’t home when someone knocks. Look out, speak through the closed & locked door. But let them know you’re home. I’ve heard of people ignoring the doorbell and then being assaulted when the criminal breaks in thinking the house unoccupied.

  • When you’re walking in the evening or late at night make sure to walk on on the side of the street with the on-coming traffic. That way no one can stop their car, pull over to the curb and accost you.

  • Aglets

    I second ‘don’t carry a bag’. When i go out i have ID, cash & lip gloss in my pockets and that’s it. Never been mugged *knock on wood* been here 15 years

  • I use to have a night job on cap hill and I would see young women in shorts and jogging bras at 11 at night running. With their ear buds listenIng to what ever. This is sheer lack of common sense and why bad things happen to people that do dumb things.

  • Look both ways and behind you when crossing the street. Don’t assume that because you have right of way, that a driver will recognize that and not kill you.

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