Columbia Heights PSA

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

“Dear PoPville,

This is probably nothing, but just in case it’s something: I live in Columbia Heights, near the corner of 13th and Columbia Road. When I came home yesterday afternoon and was walking up my steps to my shared rowhouse, a middle-aged man came out of the vestibule, which we keep unlocked. When I said hello, he said “Just dropping off some cards, looking for work,” and then walked off pretty quickly. But when I went into the vestibule myself, there were no cards.

Our inner door was locked just fine, and when I walked inside I noticed some valuables were visible from the front window.

Anyway, probably nothing, but I thought it was weird that he didn’t leave any cards, and didn’t try to talk to me about the kind of work he was looking for. I think it’s possible he was “casing” our house. Wondering if anyone else in the neighborhood has noticed anything similar, and definitely advise everyone to keep their valuables locked up/out of view.”

17 Comment

  • New PSA : Don’t go on the internet and tell everyone what corner you live on and that you never lock your front door.

    • Whoa. I understand your sentiment, but please take this in context. The corner OP lives on was relevant to the PSA and useful for those who also live around there. Also, OP said that he leaves the door to his vestibule unlocked, not his front door.

      I will say, however, that it’s probably ideal/safest to keep both the front door and the door to the vestibule locked when no one is home.

  • I live a couple of blocks from there and yes, that sort of thing happens . We have shady characters walking through our alley all the time. More recently, we’ve actually had people hanging out on our front stoop when they think nobody is home. The basement apartment is seperate in our rowhouse and our downstairs neighbors always find weird shit by their door as it’s not visible from the street. Welcome to Columbia Heights….lock your door.

  • Yeah, we get weird stuff in our basement entrance as well. Going to put up a wrought iron gate to keep condom wrappers, etc from showing up there. Hopefully it’ll also keep most of the sketchy dudes from pissing down there – though I’ve seen them stick it straight though the gate at other homes.

  • he very well was casing your house. i live on 11th in CoHi and my next-door neighbor has had three packages stolen in the span of a week. this has happened to me in the past, but this seems particularly severe. most recently they rummaged through the box and took its contents, leaving the open box and packaging in plain view. the worst part is that i work from home and didn’t notice a thing. bold!

  • “Anyway, probably nothing”… in your dreams. sounds shady. Hope you lock your vestibule from now on.

  • totally casing the place. I had a dude knock on our door one morning, I answered, and he asked if Sheila was around. I said no, he left, and I didn’t think anything of it. When I came home later that night….we had been broken into and our TV/laptops were gone. He must have waited around outside until I left.

    Trust your intuition–and call the cops as an FYI.

  • Hide ya laptops, lock ya vestibules

  • you leave your vestibule unlocked during the day? wow.

    • It really is shocking how generally unprepared for urban life many who post here are, especially when they live in places like Columbia Heights. In neigborhoods where you have to chain down your yard planters, perhaps leaving your outer door unlocked isn’t the wisest course of action. And yes, your house was being cased.

  • Similar thing happened as I watched a guy randomly go down the street only walking up to certain houses. He had a handful of door hangers but didn’t leave them. I went outside to check him out and he turned the corner. This is often to steal packages off the porch or get a look in the window to see if some valuables are visible. I immediately called the cops since we’ve repeated had packages stolen (no I cannot send them to work, sorry). Cops finally drove by after my 3rd call approx 20 mins later, not going to catch thieves with that response.

  • I’d go a step further and advise you to not only lock your vestibule door, but also either remove valuables from view of the front window or better yet, keep the blinds closed when you aren’t home. More often than not thieves are opportunists and you want to make your home as difficult/unappealing a target as possible.

  • i’m kind of in awe that you’d leave a vestibule unlocked. is that because multiple residents use the building (ie: two units)? at a minimum, this gives people an opportunity to use your vestibule for things you wouldn’t want them to (drugs, toilet, sex). it also gives them protected, indoor access to break into your house out of plain sight.

    i live on the petworth/columbia heights border, and while i love the neighborhood, you need to be realistic about the fact that there are plenty of bad people doing bad things around.

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