Dear PoPville – Heads up for Purse Nabbings at Bars

Photo by PoPville flickr user JosephLeonardo

Dear PoPville,

Just wanted to put this out there to see if something similar has happened to other folks while out:

On Friday, some friends and I stopped in Laughing Man on 13th and G (good place – no knock on the bar/restaurant at all) to grab drinks after dinner and went to the downstairs bar. There were 4 of us and 4 open bar stools at the bar, so we made our way in, and I was one end of our group of four, and there were two girls sitting in the stools next to me. I hung my purse on the hook underneath the bar, and the four of us just hung out per usual. When I went to grab something out of my purse, I didn’t feel anything underneath the bar. The two girls to my left were gone and so was my purse. MPD came and took all the info down. One of the guys there thought that these girls probably went around from bar to bar and did this often. Has this happened to anyone else?

20 Comment

  • Oof that sucks!! Thanks for posting the heads up. I would have thought those hooks would be the best place for a bag… :/

    • Agreed! If your purse is directly in front of you on the hook and you’re not up and wandering about the bar, it is certainly sad that it can still be stolen. Brazen, horrible thieves.

  • ps “I always put my bag…” and “Well what did you expect…” comments will commense in 3, 2, 1…

  • Unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence in D.C. bars (or probably bars anywhere). There was a real rash of it a couple of years ago, but it seemed to calm down a bit. The best thing to do is when using the hooks under the bar is to somehow keep your leg/knee in touch with your bag at all times so you’d feel someone trying to get to it.

    • Or, at the very least, just keep your bag closed whenever you’re not actively going through it. My friends had their wallets stolen more times than they can count because they left their bag wide open when it was on a hook under the bar, on the back of a chair, or on their shoulder in the metro.

      It’s really easy to swipe a wallet from a wide open bag. You won’t even feel them taking it.

  • As an aside, I had no idea this place existed. It looks awesome!

    • The photo above is not a photo of the interior of Laughing Man. The actual interior is far less cool looking. Not a bad place for happy hour and bar food if you are downtown after work and don’t want to go to one of the more pretentious bar scenes. Particularly good for sports because there are tons of TVs.

  • Wear your purse at all times, preferably with the strap on the opposite shoulder.

    • Not all purses can be worn that way — it’s the style I prefer, and I won’t buy a purse that doesn’t have a crossbody strap, but MANY purses are designed to be carried over the elbow.

      • Yeah, I find that style annoying as someone with an hourglass shape. The purse flops up and down slapping my hips as I walk. Really annoying.

  • I am surprised MPD took the report, and didn’t claim that you just lost your bag….

  • I don’t have anything constructive to add, but I am sorry this happened to you and I appreciate the heads up. Those bar hooks always seemed like the most steal-proof places for a purse, but I won’t let my guard down when I use them now.

  • Do they make some sort of purse chain, like on those chain wallets some guys wear when they’re worried about pickpockets or worried about not jangling as they walk around?

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. It happened to me in Baltimore a few months ago, and it was truly horrific to try to replace everything. (Try getting a new phone when your wallet–incl your only credit cards and access to cash–was also stolen).

    In my experience, what I hate the most about what happened is how paranoid it’s made me now. Maybe that is a good thing in one regard, but it’s also not very comfortable. The sad thing is there are no real “lessons” to be learned from this because your stuff should have been safe where it was!! good luck:-/

  • Yeah, I’m too paranoid for the hooks unless I am seated and the purse is between my legs.

    Sorry this happened to you. Hope you get your things back.

  • So sorry! Same thing happened to me at Southern Hospitality and they spent about $2,000.00 on my cards before I noticed. Sucks so bad!!!

  • This happened to me too when I put my purse on one of those hooks…but they didn’t take my whole purse they just unzipped it and stole my wallet! So I didn’t even notice til I went to leave for the night and my purse felt much lighter than it had been originally. It was also at a bar for happy hour – beween 6-8 – not late at night.

  • A few years ago, my wallet was stolen upstairs at Wonderland from my coat pocket. I was standing directly in front of the wall hook holding my coat when a random guy approached me and began speaking incoherently. I quickly ended the conversation because the guy made me uncomfortable, only to notice my wallet was gone when I checked my coat pocket a few minutes later. I notified the bouncer, who acted as mediator when I confronted the guy and his entourage outside. Of course, the guy (whose speech had miraculously returned to normal) denied taking my wallet. I spent the next few hours on the phone with my bank and credit card companies. My wallet was never found.

    What infuriated me most, though, was that when I confronted the guy, one of his friends looked at me sideways and said, “Oh, she’s got coins,” insinuating I could afford to lose my wallet. Based on my experience and those of friends who have also been robbed in Columbia Heights (without/with armed force), it seems these rodents believe that some of us deserve to lose our personal property because we look/act/sound a certain way.

    Welcome to DC.

  • sometimes, when just casually sitting at the bar, I’ll hook my purse over one knee and cross my legs with the other… I started doing this after a friends’ purse was stolen brazenly from the back of her chair…..

    the thief would have to get between my legs to get the goods! 🙂

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