Yesterday (Wednesday, 10/23) I was walking to a friend’s place in Mount Pleasant after work, at around 8.15 pm. At around the 1400 block of Harvard St NW (around the middle of the block, where there is a ‘For Sale’ sign outside a bunch of new condos), I took out my iPhone to text my friend back that I would meet her at her place. When I looked up from my phone, there were two teenage boys, both around 5’5″ (they were a bit shorter than me, and I’m 5’7”), about 10 feet in front of me. I put my phone in my pocket and kept walking. They called another boy out, who had been hiding in the alcove between the street and the gated entrance of the apartments (I couldn’t see that there was a third person from my angle walking towards 15th and Harvard, from 14th and Harvard). Then, one of them (skinny, low haircut, black male) forcefully bumped into me and told me to empty my pockets. I followed instructions, didn’t resist, handed over my phone, and they took a step away. Then they came back (I hadn’t had time to process or even move away) and asked me for my passcode. I gave it to them, and they walked away towards 14th and Harvard. Thankfully, I was not harmed and they didn’t show any interest in my purse or other belongings.
I say this as a follow-up to yesterday’s post on safety, especially in Columbia Heights. I thought this was worth sharing. No matter how safe you think you are being 99% of the time, that 1% of the time when you have your phone out on a quiet block with nobody else around could be the one time something bad happens. If I had seen them more than 10 feet in advance, loitering, I would have trusted my gut and walked on the other side of the street or just walked back and taken another route. It pays to be aware of your surroundings in the direction you’re walking. Trust your gut.
I ran all the way to my friend’s house in Mount Pleasant and used her computer to erase all the data from my phone (they had already turned it off so I couldn’t track the location). I called the police and detectives, who were very helpful and spent a lot of time taking down case details. The detectives even drove me to the scene and asked me to describe exactly how it happened, and gave me advice on what to do if I saw them again. They were very helpful and kind.They mentioned that almost all stolen phones end up overseas within days, something I had no idea about.
Anyway, I hope other ladies walking alone can be reminded to be alert, and avoid quiet roads in the dark no matter how familiar you are with them, or if you have to use it, to be very alert and follow your gut if you sense something is amiss.”