Dear PoPville – Am I Naive to think I could leave a Stroller without it Getting Stolen?

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoPville,

I have a horrible story that should go out as another FYI to people. I live in a small condo building near U Street and we have a small, but gated, front lawn. Recently two of us in the building gave birth, making it now 3 kids in our 6 unit building, and we began leaving our strollers outside of the building, inside the gate and right next the front steps (as our other neighbor with a 3 year old has been doing for years). Well, this morning (sometime between 10am and 11:30am) as I was sitting in my living room with my 4.5 month old, my neighbor’s stroller got stolen from our front patio, just feet from my front door!

Am I being naive to think no one would take a stroller? I just think this is awful and I hope it’s a lone incident and not another thing we have to watch for in this area.”

90 Comment

  • “Am I being naive to think no one would take a stroller?”

    I’m sorry, but yes. It shouldn’t be that way, but when you’ve got teenagers running around punching people in the head for no reason, don’t be surprised when somebody runs away with your baby buggy–especially if it was a nice one.

    • Clearly what happened is that the neighbor orchestrated the whole thing for the homeowners insurance payday! Easiest way to convert a 2004 Graco into a 2014 Bugaboo.

  • It is naive to think someone wouldn’t take anything left outside if it isn’t locked up- doesn’t matter what it is. That said, I see tons of houses with strollers/kids’ toys out front that just seem to sit there untouched for a long time. I always think they should probably at least chain that stuff to the porch railing if they don’t want it to eventually “walk off.”

    • In my neighborhood, most (though not all) are chained with a bike lock to the porch.

    • binpetworth

      Amen. Take it from someone who had a cheap potted plant stolen from her porch, if you’re not willing to part with it, better lock it.

      • Yup. I have two cheap patio chairs on my front porch that aren’t chained up. I have been expecting them to be gone every day when I open the door to leave the house, and so far after a few months they aren’t. I’m quite surprised by this, but if they were to be stolen it wouldn’t be a biggie since they’re super cheap and falling apart anyway.
        I have had a potted plant stolen before as well.

      • I had a plant stolen. But just the plant – ripped out by the roots. They left the pot.

  • Honestly, yes, I think you are naive to think no one would take a stroller. They’re useful and they’re kind of expensive so I would say they qualify as something that someone might want to steal. It’s a shi**y thing to do, of course, but pretty much anything that can be sold or used by someone else and can be easily carried away might just disappear.

  • thieves will steal anything that might be of use to themselves (or sometimes their families) or alternatively they can pawn it for cash. which means essentially they’ll steal anything.

  • Yes, you were being naive. Can I ask, are you new to living in the city?

  • Yes, very naive. Strollers cost a lot of money, for one thing, but I don’t even leave my kid’s trike unattended. At the very least, get a small bike lock.

    Also, be forewarned that the Zoo is a place where strollers often disappear.

  • I’m sorry to jump on this bandwagon, but, yes, you were naive to think that. I think it doesn’t happen as much as it could (given the number of $250-$700 strollers in DC) and that people are generally good, but it is definitely a possibility. If you need to leave your stroller outside, could you use a bike lock?

  • Also, it’s not the most “horrible” story in the world. Horrible is being jumped and left for dead, like those kids did to that new young father about 1.5 years ago. Having something stolen is upsetting, intrusive, inconvenient, annoying and costly – but it is NOT horrible. Horrible would be if there was a baby in the stroller. Get some perspective, please!

    • agreed. The word horrible has been getting overused lately.

      • austindc

        Agreed. Horribly overused.

        • Horrible, horrible, horrible! Won’t someone think of the children!

          Oh wait that was the OP who didn’t think of the children, the thief was probably thinking about their kids.

          The hilarious thing about this to me is:
          1) she feels safe enough in her neighborhood to do this
          2) she has escalated this crime from petty theft to PETTY THEFT FROM CHILDREN OMG THINK OF THE CHILDRENS!!!!
          3) she now probably thinks her neighborhood is bad/less safe because her and her neighbors live in a fantasy land where you can leave 200-800 items (on wheels!) in the middle of a big city and be horrified when they are stolen
          4) I’m such a jaded city person that I have ZERO sympathy, in fact I think have a schaddenfreurection
          5) I’m leaving this comment after leaving my daughters stroller on my front porch for ~45min a few days ago (of course I would have taken my licks like a man had it been stolen and there were like 30 volunteers directly across the street from my house).

          Anyway fun stuff, the explosion of hapless millennials is a source of endless entertainment and many times irritation for a jaded prick like me.

    • I was thinking the same exact thing. “Horrible” is a super dramatic description, especially seeing as it didn’t even happen to the OP, it was their neighbor.

    • My wife and I were just talking about that today as we drove by the school where his wife worked , so very sad and I hope he is making a better recovery. That story has stuck with both of us since it’s happened and i’m sure it will for many more years to come.

  • Naive.

    I always use a cheap cable lock to secure our wagon or stroller when left in the front yard. I know this type of lock is easily defeated by someone w/ motivation and know-how, but the theft of items like these seems more like a crime of opportunity.

  • Yes, unfortunately nice strollers are stolen quite often. Several years ago, I was helping a buddy move – this was in the outer burbs, not DC. He had a pickup truck, and it was piled probably too high with stuff, including he and his wife’s ‘nice’ stroller. So the stroller fell off at one point. We noticed, and rather than make a U-turn, decided to just drive up to a safe place to pull over, and walk back for it, about 300-400 yards or so. As we were walking back, a car pulled up just behind the stroller and two people jumped out, grabbed it, and started shoving it in their car. We started running and yelling, but they got it in and jumped back in and drove off, tires squealing. We kind of looked at each other with a kind of “Did that just effing happen?” look on our faces. Needless to say, my buddy was PISSED.

  • Yes, you are being naive, and if by saying “another thing we have to watch for in the city” you mean “we live in the city and things not secured will be stolen”, then you are correct.

  • Dang, POP posts are all baited today… It’s like reading our community news on TMZ or something today… Way to divide the community yall! Seriously though, I prefer impartial posts not contributing to driving fears of city living…

    This is a city with a rapidly increasing population, and there will always be negative effects of so many people living close to each other, along with the horrible economic downturn we’ve been dealing with… This isn’t Kansas or Canada where you can leave your door unlocked and get blown away by a tornado or get attacked by a mountain lion.

    P.S. The “Knockout Game” is something that news media and blog sites created to drive their dramatic content upwards. Most people who get knocked out are knocked out for a specific reason, like robbery, talking loudly on their cell phone in the wrong neighborhood, or something bad or annoying they did (still though as underserved as it may be). Turn off your unreasonable fears of walking out in open society.

  • Yes, your naive and please stop referring to your baby by the number months. just call it your baby.

  • Yes.

    Buy a cable lock.

  • People on this blog are cranky today!

  • Funny you ask this! I think I’m your neighbor, because I have walked by a similar building fitting your description on in the U Street area and have noticed a stroller outside every day on my walk to work not locked up to anything. And with each passing I was always surprised that no one had every tried to take it. No matter how it happens, it stinks to get your things stolen – but that was a bit naive.

    • I live near this place too. I always thought the same thing: “someone is going to jack that stroller one day – why don’t they lock it up?”

  • Previous subjects of the numerous “I can’t believe some lowlife stole this” reports that have appeared on this forum include plants – both potted and planted in the ground, pumpkins carved by children, and holiday decorations. I had a plastic snow shovel stolen taken from my porch. So yeah, it is being naïve to think no one would ever take a stroller, especially if it’s an expensive one.
    If it’s important to you and easily portable, don’t leave it outside unsecured.
    Having said that, your situation shows how random things can be. One neighbor leaves a stroller outside for years and nothing happened. Another neighbor’s stroller gets stolen after a couple of months. You never know.

  • Awe. Sweetie.

    Out of the many random senseless things to be stolen out of our yard over the years, I think the most silly was a bag of mulch.

    • houseintherear

      LOL. Mine was a roll of scotch tape, about 9/10 used.

    • Someone stole a plastic pot filled with dirt, just about the same time someone stole my compost container.

    • Someone took a tiny potted annual I was about to plant in the ground while I ran in and got a glass of water (there were 4, but they only took one).
      We actually had a tally going to see how long it would be before our pumpkins were stolen this year. Surprisingly, they never were, but the squirrels did get them.

    • For me the most random and senseless was either the gate (not something you’d think would get stolen, though it’s worth a lot of money), patio chair cushion (only one), or Halloween decorations (still mourning the loss of the sparkly purple cat). We also lost a bike and a couple packages but that’s far more expected/typical.

  • If you are asking “is it naive” to POPville, the answer is yes.

    You are extremely brave or asking us though. I mean that in all seriousness.

    Best of luck to you with future strollers. We’ve all lost stuff (I’m on my thrid weedwacker) to the city.

    • LOL, agreed.
      Welcome to the Internet and DC, OP. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
      Rule #1 of DC: don’t leave out your nice things

  • I agree that it’s not a horrible story & have definitely heard much worse. I live in Logan with a baby and although weird to think people would literally steal from a baby, strollers could be worth a few hundred dollars, and I would definitely lock mine up with a bike lock outside of my building.

  • Question about this habit of leaving strollers outside: I live near Logan Circle and often see strollers left outside homes in the same way described by OP, frequently overnight, and wonder, aren’t they worried about generally cleanliness with putting their child in these things? Are they not worried about spiders, rodents, cats, bird droppings, etc.? Is this not really a concern?

    • I wonder about this too! Also they leave them out when it rains, doesn’t the baby get all wet?

    • People leave patio furniture outside 24 hours a day, yet seem to have no problem sitting on them or placing their stuff on outdoor tables. People sit on park benches all the time, and those are always left outside. Kids run around on grass all the time, and that’s got spiders, rodents, bugs, and animal sh*t all over it. I don’t think it’s a huge problem.

      • I guess my question stems from having had to sit on wet cushions on people’s patios! Not pleasant!

      • Fair point. I’m not a parent, so I don’t know. I’m also not generally a germaphobe person. Aren’t strollers different than the other outdoor furniture in that they are padded and subject to mold?

      • a lot of people lock their patio furniture – my own two chairs and a table are all looped through a wire lock that it attached to the house.

  • In a word, yes.

  • I want to second the comment of a previous poster — there are TONS of people who leave their strollers outside of their houses in my neighborhood: some are locked and some are not. . And this is understandable: strollers are heavy and unwieldy at times, especially when juggling a small child. I think this is a case of bad luck for the owner and an investment for the taker. Imagine the owner will use a lock from here on out!

  • Am I a curmudgeon for thinking it’s rude to your other neighbors for cluttering up the front walkway with your personal belongings?

  • My kid’s little red wagon was stolen off our front porch, in broad daylight, in the time that it took me to put away the groceries I had hauled home in it.
    The suckiness of some people cannot be overstated. My very small child was distraught.

  • Don’t feel bad, I’m a 564 month old and one time I had my wheel barrow stolen when I went insider to grab some lunch.

  • I didn’t know leaving strollers outside was a thing. I recall seeing one sitting outside overnight in the U Street area awhile back, and I had to go check that there wasn’t an abandoned baby sitting in it, because I couldn’t imagine that someone would just leave their stroller sitting in front of an apartment building in a city.

    I’d say you are not only naive, but quite lucky that you and your neighbors got so much use out of your strollers before one was stolen. I’m shocked it wasn’t stolen on day one.

  • strollers are very expensive and there are still plenty of poor folks having kids in DC…so just put it together and its actually the ideal thing to steal. I keep expecting someone to steal the car seat out of my car actually. What other $250 item would be left in the car. I just don’t cause its such a huge pain in the azz…

  • I have literally had a half-full bag of dirt stolen from my back yard. If it is there, and not nailed down, it will get stolen.

  • My own cranky reaction: what kind of condo building lets residents store their personal property in a common area? (But sorry to hear it was stolen.)

    • Agreed. In my friend’s condo building, their neighbor leaves their kids’ stroller, scooters, wet rain boots, and other toys in the lobby outside their first floor door. I sometimes think about stealing their stuff, but only to prove the point that it’s an eyesore to have to look at.

  • That’s why you want a cheap umbrella to bring to the zoo. I’ve seen a lot of strollers outside in my neighborhood, but usually the ones that aren’t as nice. When you have a small home and want to have a jog stroller too, where else would you put it? We often keep ours in the trunk of our car, but sometimes leave it on our back porch. We’re definitely aware that it could be stolen, but it’s a cost/benefit analysis.

    On the car seat thing, I don’t think they’d be stolen just because the market for used ones is small indeed. And those things are so very grimy. Can’t imagine stealing one.

  • I don’t think of it as naiveté but as laziness and thoughtlessness. You’re leaving your personal property in what’s the condo’s common area if I’m reading your post correctly. Imagine if all your neighbors left their things in that gated front lawn? Bring the strollers into your apartment; don’t leave them out where they’d be an eyesore to your neighbors.

  • I think it’s common for strollers and diaper bags to be stolen. My son was in a nanny share for two years. During that time, someone stole the diaper bag off of the double stroller and, eventually, the whole stroller. When the stroller was taken, it was in a backyard in Mount Pleasant. That’s why you see parents using bike locks when they have to leave a stroller outside of a building.

  • I was naive to think my cast iron front gate wouldn’t have been stolen in Capitol Hill. Now THAT is something you wouldn’t think someone would try to steal!

  • My tenant had her bike stolen from the house’s backyard. The backyard has a massive brick patio and metal gates, but i guess they had not locked the gates. There were a bunch of people in the house at the time, but no one in the backyard. This is at a rowhouse in shaw. Anything that’s valuable, like a bike or stroller, you should def lock – its an easy crime of opportunity.

    • If your goal is to have nothing stolen it’s really best to not have anything in your yard– including patio furniture, gate/fence, holiday decorations, or plants. Even if it’s not that valuable there’s a good chance it will be stolen.

  • get a friggin DOG. you will NEVER have to lock up anything again. seriously. i got a dog. nobody bothers anything!

  • Sorry to hear. This type of crime appears to vary widely throughout the city. Some small streets appear to be places where people leave out all types of items. Other streets get everything stolen off porches from plants to tricycles. While your neighbors’ ability to leave out stuff safely is a good indicator that you may be in a safe(r) spot in the city, it’s always better to either chain expensive items or keep them in your line of sight (if possible).

    Also, lock your stroller wheels when you leave it unattended. This will only slow down an expert thief a few seconds, but it may make the difference if you’re chasing somebody down!

  • dear god YES OF COURSE you are naive.

    you would seriously leave an item worth hundreds of dollars outside, unattended or locked? why would you think a stroller looks any different to a potential thief than a bike? did you think that people wouldn’t take something because it’s a “baby accessory” and you were assuming that no one would be so ‘mean’? jesus christ lady, you should NOT live in the city.

  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This isn’t a city thing. I’ve got friends and relatives living in the toniest of suburban neighborhoods, and if it’s not locked down, it will eventually get stolen or vandalized. There are bored teens everywhere.

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