Reader Crime Alerts: NoMa and Columbia Heights

Dear PoPville,

Yesterday morning my girlfriend and I discovered her car, parked on Pierce St (corner of 1st ST NE in NoMa, with a busted passenger side window, along with her car, there were at least 3 other cars with busted windows as well. This seems to mostly happen on this street only, so it might be good to warn people about not parking on this street. The police came promptly and even looked for fingerprints.


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Dear PoPville,

I live on Sherman Ave (near Lamont) in Columbia Heights and wanted to share something that happened on Saturday night. I was sitting in my house and saw something move out the corner of my eye – I looked up and saw nothing, but a minute later a man leaned over and looked into the window on my back door. I alerted my husband, who got up and we approached the door – the guy leaned in again, saw us, and ducked under the window and took off. We went out on the deck, and saw that he had run a couple houses over in our back alley, then stopped and was watching us. As my husband moved to go down the stairs, the guy took off.

He was wearing a black ski hat and obviously deliberately came all the way down our back alley and up on to our deck – scary thing is, he had to have seen me before I noticed him as I was in direct line of sight from the door, yet that did not seem to deter him from continuing to look into the house.

We notified the police and they did a patrol of the area. Haven’t heard anything since. I still think its generally safe as our neighbors tend to float around out back (for a late night smoke and so on). Just wanted to let more neighbors in the area know so they can be extra alert.

43 Comment

  • Emilie504

    That second one is one of my fears: looking out a window and seeing a face. shudder

  • I always wanted to do a neighborhood watch but my vision is not socially acceptable. It would entail a group meeting at member’s house where we would have a drink, and a snack to discuss crime info and our beat for the evening We woudl be armed with neon vests, flashlights and police batons, and flasks of your favoriate beverage.

    • Well lose the police batons and the (presumably) alcoholic drinks and that sounds just fine. Carry large metal flashlights and you don’t need the batons anyway. I think the problem would be finding people who are willing or able to spend the time.

      • is it not legal to walk around with a police baton?

        • D.C. Code § 22-4514. Possession of certain dangerous weapons prohibited; exceptions.

          (a) No person shall within the District of Columbia possess any machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, knuckles, or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, sand club, sandbag, switchblade knife, nor any instrument, attachment, or appliance for causing the firing of any firearm to be silent or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any firearms; provided, however, that machine guns, or sawed-off shotgun, knuckles,s, and blackjacks may be possessed by the members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps of the United States, the National Guard, or Organized Reserves when on duty, the Post Office Department or its employees when on duty, marshals, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen, or other duly-appointed law enforcement officers, including any designated civilian employee of the Metropolitan Police Department, or officers or employees of the United States duly authorized to carry such weapons, banking institutions, public carriers who are engaged in the business of transporting mail, money, securities, or other valuables, wholesale dealers and retail dealers licensed under § 22-4510.

          (b) No person shall within the District of Columbia possess, with intent to use unlawfully against another, an imitation pistol, or a dagger, dirk, razor, stiletto, or knife with a blade longer than 3 inches, or other dangerous weapon.

          (c) Whoever violates this section shall be punished as provided in § 22-4515 unless the violation occurs after such person has been convicted in the District of Columbia of a violation of this section, or of a felony, either in the District of Columbia or in another jurisdiction, in which case such person shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years.

  • This window-breaking thing is absolutely ridiculous. Insurance rarely covers the cost of replacing a broken window. Even if they don’t take anything, it’s $200+ down the drain. I wish there was a way the police could help keep this from happening…

  • This is why we have a steel gate on our back door and bars on our ground floor windows. A neighbor once had a guy come crashing through their rear window at dinner time with a bunch of cops in hot pursuit. Another neighbor had a burglar kick in the rear door while people were at home. Bars are a great deterrent.

    I’m apparently posting too quickly. Yes, I did post yesterday . . .

    • Window/door bars are the way to go, but they are not foolproof. Pros can break them using liquid nitrogen. However, anything that gives you more security than your neighbors have make you less likely to get a break-in. May I also suggest glass brick for the basement windows?

  • Is it legal to shoot at a perp that is attempting to get in your window? Serious question.

      • Then at what point can you defend your property? When he pulls a gun? When he threatens to kill your wife? When he shoots at you in your home?

        • Please consult your lawyer.

        • In DC, pretty much never legally.

        • I’m certainly no expert, but the general rule is that you can’t use deadly force to protect property. DC might seem like the wild west at times, but it is not.

        • have your child shoot them.

        • I feel if someone is breaking into your house and shows a weapon it warrants a threat to you and your family’s personal safety. Shoot him. Hopefully the court agrees b/c I’m no lawyer. Although if sentences indicate anything you’ll probably only get a slap on the wrist.

        • Generally, the use of deadly force in self-defense or defense of others requires that the danger of death or serious bodiliy harm to you (or someone else) be “imminent”. You can’t use deadly force to protect yourself from something someone might do at some point in the future; it has to be something the person is about to do. It’s an affirmative defense, meaning that the burden is on you to prove that you acted in self-defense (assuming you are charged with a crime first). There may be circumstances where the argument can be made that someone entering your home through a window without permission put you or someone else in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. If it’s someone coming into your home with a weapon drawn and expressing a clear intent to harm you, probably. If it’s a run of the mill burglar entering what he thinks is an empty home, maybe not. Also, generally there is no duty to retreat if you are in your home. You don’t have to avoid a confrontation if one is brought to you.

          • I am sorry, but I need to address what is a legally incorrect post. The most egregious error, among many, is your characterization of affirmative defense and the accompanying burden of proof. From Holloway v. United States, 25 A.3d 898 (D.C. 2011):

            “We have identified a heightened risk of such a misunderstanding when a defendant presents an affirmative defense such as alibi, self-defense, or (as in this case) accident. In such cases, “there is a danger that the jury may simply weigh the defendant’s … claim against the government’s evidence and convict on a mere preponderance of the evidence.” FN11 The jury needs to understand that in presenting a defense, “the defendant is not taking on the burden of proving his or her innocence,” and that even if it does not “wholly believe” the defense evidence, it must still acquit if the evidence raises a reasonable doubt.”

            Your descriptions of the various states of mind regarding intent and perception of threat is also incorrect or incomplete on a number of levels

            Those who are expressing the sentiment of consulting a lawyer are the ones who are correct.

      • And even if it was, first you would have to unlock your gun, unlock your ammo, load your gun, and probably ask the perp to firts sign a consent form before you would be allow to shoot.

    • See District of Columbia v. Heller. I’m pretty sure it is legal to use deadly force if you are protecting yourself or others in your own home. Consult with a police officer for the specifics if you’re concerned. Anyone who would have second thoughts, though, as the perp came charging at them in their living room would likely live (or not live) to regret their inaction. Fighting an invader with butter knives or mean words is not going to be helpful. I’d rather be tried by 12 than buried by 6.

      • Heller concerns the constitutionality of the gun control laws that DC had in effect at the time. It does not address whether you can be prosecuted for shooting someone who is breaking into your home. But I suspect you knew that.

        • You are correct. But the case makes the point that guns can remain together and unlocked for the purposes of self-defense in the home. Someone earlier on this post suggested that defending oneself in a private home is illegal in the District. That is not the case, and Heller offers proof of that. But as I said, consult with a police officer for the specifics. There is a difference between shooting someone who is banging on your door and windows versus someone who has actually crossed the threshold and is coming at you.

          • I’m not sure which earlier post you’re referring to but a couple of them were talking about defending one’s property and a couple were talking about defending one’s person. I suspect that there is a distinction between the two and probably a different standard of what is acceptable for each, although I am indeed no lawyer.

            It sounded like Anonymous 11:41 kind of blurred the line between the two.

  • One evening a couple of months ago, a man came to our front door and looked into the house through the large window on our door. We have a filmy window curtain on the door so you have to get up close to look in. My husband approached the door and asked the guy what his problem is and he said “my bad, wrong house” and ran away. Um – why didn’t he just ring the door bell? Clearly he was snooping around. Not sure what he was wearing.

    • I know it seems crazy, but you should call the police and give them a detailed description in this case. I had this same thing happen and I decided to call the police because there had been a rash of burglaries. They found the guy and turns out he was driving a car he had just stolen and was trying to walk into unlocked houses and take what he could grab.

  • I live on Lamont and Sherman and used to catch ‘hoods looking through my back window, or walking around my car looking for stuff to steal probably a couple times a month. Row homes are most vulnerable through the read alley to crime.

    Then I got a pooner door and that was the end of that. Those things are admittedly as expensive as hell, but they act as a heck of a deterrant.

    • Surely a regular fence (if somewhat tall) would also act as a deterrent?

      It’s not as if the only choice is “back yard completely open to alley” vs. “$8K automatic door.”

  • What side of Sherman Avenue was it on? The 11th street side or the Georgia Ave side?

  • brookland_rez

    I lived on Parker St for 2 years and there was a car break-in in that area at least once a week.

  • The NE unit blocks from N to Pierce could practically be paved with the fragments of broken car windows. On my walk down N to the metro, I see multiple piles of fresh auto glass approximately once a week. It’s easy pickings, assumedly at the expense of club-goers.

  • Everyone is complaining about this but I’m the only one trying to come up with a solution. I see nothing wrong with hitting up a HH and then taking the streets armed to the teeth carrying out vigalante justice. You either die and be hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villian

  • Ah, yes, Pierce Street NE. That’s the block that lacks any parking signs, and has no meters – yet. It’s got out-of-state vehicles parked, up to each corner, 24/7. All are welcome, and it’s a block to the NoMa Metro station!

    Once this oversight by dDoT is remedied, there will be turnover in parking. Since that parking will be monitored, crime like this won’t be as much of a problem. For perpetrators of ROSA violations, it will be a problem, however.

    Call dDoT if you want to accelerate the installation of signs and meters. Specifically, call 673-6813 and request new No Parking signs around 1140 1st St NE.

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