Dear PoPville – ” learn from our mistakes”

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

“Dear PoPville,

Saturday night my roommate and I went dancing to one of our old haunts, the Wonderland Ballroom on 11th St. While we were dancing, we hung my purse, which contained both our wallets and cell phones on a hook behind us. Keeping the purse in sight, we danced for about 2 hours! There were only a couple of times that someone was standing between me and my bag, and I kept what I thought was a close eye on the bag. When we left, we discovered that my roommate’s brand new iPhone was gone from my bag. When we checked our wallets, all the cash was gone, but cards were still there. We left a note with the Wonderland staff. Has anyone else had an experience like this? Is it even worth filing a police report? I hope others can learn from our mistakes. Next time we will make sure to keep the bag on us at all times.”

66 Comment

  • Happens to me all the time.

  • Unfortunately there’s nothing uncommon about this. I’ve known people who’ve had their bags stolen while hanging off the back of their chairs at dinner, or sitting next to them on a chair/bench.
    Always keep your purse on you. If a purse is too inconvenient (I know it can be irritating when dancing) then get some sort of wristlet or money clip. I bought a money clip that has slots for credit cards that I then clip to the inside of my waistband when I go out. Also works for traveling when pickpockets are a concern.

    • skj84

      A woman once had her bag stolen off the back of her chair at the restaurant I worked at and no one saw it happen. And this was a busy night with plenty of staff and patrons. She found the bag in the bushes outside with her wallet missing. Pick pockets are stealth.

      I try not to hang my purse on the back of my chair. I’m even leery of the hooks on the bar. I try to keep part of the bag touching me so I know it’s there. Of course if someone reaches in to grab stuff I’m not fully protected.

    • +1 and try to minimize what you bring with you when you go out. It’s a good rule to follow anywhere since this sort of thing can happen anywhere (and not just in DC).

  • Tacotaco, I think they know about point 1, no need to be mean about it. They learned a hard lesson and they are good in reminding all of us to watch their stuff and not leave it unattended. Years ago my friend had her walled taken while she was at the ESPN Zone and they really did not want here filing a police report. The staff found the wallet, minus the money, in the restroom, seemed like it happened all the time.

    • “[T]hey really did not want here filing a police report” — “they” being ESPN Zone, or the police? Just curious.

  • skj84

    They are not idiots. Yes it wasn’t a good idea to leave bags unattended. But everyone lets thier guard down sometimes. I’ve played the crapshoot and left my purse unattended while dancing and luckily never had it or the contents stolen. But sometimes shit happens.

    • Yeah, I’ve done the “leave the purse nearby while dancing” move before, although I acknowledge that it’s risky.

  • Be nice. People make mistakes – at least she is owning up to it and reminding others, rather than blaming the establishment for not providing a secure are to dance or the criminals for being savagely opportunistic.

  • It’s worth it to get a police report if you plan on filing a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance claim for the iPhone. Those things are worth $600 to replace. Of course, it depends on the deductible amount.

    • You wouldn’t file a homeowner’s claim for a measly $600. I don’t even know that deductibles under $1000 exist. And then the company would cancel on you.

      • My policy with USAA has a $100 deductible.

      • My renters insurance has a $250 deductible. And it covers theft of stolen personal property, so long as a police report is filed. That said, I’m unsure how such a small claim would affect the renewal amount for the next year.

      • this. you are crazy to file a homeowner’s claim for anything short of catastrophic problems with your residence because you will become instantly uninsurable.

        • ehhh not true. my parents filed one for their roof and their rate has stayed the same. An iphone is obviously different than a 15k roof, but still. One claim does not make someone “uninsurable”.

          • Except in some cases it does. Plenty of people have paid their premiums for 30+ years, filed one claim for a flooded basement, and promptly had their insurance canceled. It happens.

          • Insurance ends up paying for the basement though, right?

          • it is very irresponsible to spread this type of ignorant garbage.

          • “Except in some cases it does. Plenty of people have paid their premiums for 30+ years, filed one claim for a flooded basement, and promptly had their insurance canceled. It happens.”
            That is EXACTLY what happened to my girlfriend’s mom. Yeah, they paid the claim and she got a letter saying they were dropping her immediately after.

      • Mine for Liberty Mutual is $50 for electronics.

        • Do not under any circumstances file a homeowners’ claim for anything but a catastrophic loss. You will likely be cancelled at your next renewal and it may be difficult to find another property insurer. Property insurance is a total scam but that’s the way the game is played.

  • My first instinct was a good jolly laugh at someone not knowing this. After I calmed myself it reminded me that my new room mate last night was yelling at something and I came in to see what was wrong. There was a “gentleman” standing by the trash can at the bus stop peeling an orange and dropping the peel on the ground, as opposed to duh the trash can beside him. My room mate had never seen such a thing (new to a city) and was accosting the person lol, as if it would change something.

    You come to the city with your experiences. I too remember how shocked I was the first time this happened to me in DC…………..

    1. I was chased down the alley by rats
    2. I saw drunks passed out dead cold half in the street and half on the sidewalk blocking the path
    3. I was taunted and called racial slurs by a child while the parent watched with pride
    4. A crack head lady got out of a cab, ran behind our trash cans, dropped her shorts and crapped in our yard
    5. A crack head man dropped his pants behind my vehicle but did not choose to squat and splattered the garage door from 4 foot down with his defecation spray
    6. How ever mother’s day anything in your yard that ain’t nailed down goes missing (flowers, flower pots, bird feeders, ornaments)
    7. People going out of their way to shove bottles and trash down the street sewer
    8. People going into a business and ordering items and turning to you in line with a straight face and no shame asking if you got the money to pay for it cause they don’t.
    9. Lord honey this list could go on for days, I gotta get back to work : )

    • this seems like a great list… other people should add theirs! hahaha!

    • Jesus I’m wondering how I’ve lived here six years without seeing anything like this list, haha. I need to get out more. Although… chased down an alley by rats = I think I might actually, literally, pick up and move. I can. Not. Handle. Rats.

      • I’m with you Sweet Thing…

        Maybe I am lucky but I have never had one of these problems in 40+ years, and for the first 20 I got out a lot.

        The City is for everyone, that is for sure.

      • Emmaleigh504

        A rat actually ran into me at a bus stop one morning. Rat smacked right into my shoe (thank god it was Fall so I was not wearing sandals I would have had to amputate!). I now keep a close eye out for rats no matter the time of day.

        • saf

          A friend of mine was outside her door in New Orleans (she lived in the French Quarter.) A rat ran up her pant leg and bit her.

          I could not do what she did – she grabbed it, it died, and she went to the ER, taking the rat corpse with her.

          • Emmaleigh504

            I would have just died on the spot.

          • saf

            As would I. But Beth, the thin and beautiful blond, is tuff-grrrrl.

          • When I got my puppy I asked the vet what to do if, god help me, she ever caught a rat. He said, “Bring her in immediately. The rat too. Kill the rat first if you need to.” [shudder]

          • She grabbed it and it died? Did she have to squeeze it to death??
            I remember waiting at the bus stop on the northeast corner of 14th and U circa 10 years ago, when the building on the corner was boarded up and the area was a lot grittier. It was summer, and I was wearing sandals. I saw a rat, and all of a sudden my toes felt very, very vulnerable!

        • During Snowmaggeddon, I was trudging through Adams Morgan and saw rats leaping in and out of the snow. It was frightful.

        • A rat smacked into my arm once when I opened my trash can and it came leaping out. (Long story — my dad was staying at my house, I had been out of town for work, and my dad hadn’t taken the trash can to the alley in my absence.)
          Fortunately it was winter, so it smacked into my (washable) coat and not bare skin. If it had been summer, I might still be traumatized.

      • Bizarre sight yesterday afternoon in my yard: A young squirrel and rat playing together. Running together then jumping over each other, facing then running away then meeting up.

        • Further proof that squirrels really are just rats with fluffier tails.
          They’re not fooling me!

      • Is it weird that I’ve never seen a rat in DC? And supposedly they’re the reason we’re not getting an &pizza in the neighborhood. Saw lots of rats when I lived in Fairfax County though!

        • How long have you lived in D.C.?
          Where in D.C. do you live?
          Are you in an apartment/condo building, or a house?

          • I’ve lived in the area for 10 years. Two of those years were in Alexandria/Arlington (no rats), two were in Annandale (rat city), and the rest were in various DC neighborhoods. I’ve been in Capitol Hill the past 3.5 years, in a rowhouse.

          • I have seen plenty of mice in DC though!
            Roaches are another thing I’ve only seen in NoVA, though they’re admittedly a bit harder to spot.

        • Yes. That’s crazy.

      • 15 years and counting and I’ve never experienced any of this.

        Well, I do yell at people who litter. Always have, always will. And 9/10 times they pick up the trash and dispose of it properly. The only person who reacted negatively was a PG County police officer who said he could do whatever he wanted (outside of his jurisdiction at that).

    • This was in Greenbelt, MD, but I remember how shocked I was the first time I saw someone drinking alcohol out of a brown paper bag (in a shopping-center parking lot) in real life, rather than on TV.

    • It blows my mind if you have not seen any of this in a few years of DC lol. You MUST live west of Rock Creek Park then : ) I have lived in 3 DC hoods in the past 7 years

      1. Columbia Heights
      2. Columbia Heights and Truxton Circle
      3. The G8, 80, and 42 bus lines
      4. Bloomingdale
      5. Columbia Heights
      7. ALL THREE LOCATIONS and when traveling around town
      8. ALL THREE LOCATIONS, most recent at an ice cream store, little girl (12 – 14 I guess) standing there with scooped ice cream in the cone looking at me to pay for it like she did not know before it got scooped that she didn’t have any money. She just played the odds that they would let her keep it rather than take it back (which they did) lol

      • I only lived WOTP from 1999-2003 since then I lived in Columbia Heights for 5 years and (very southern) Petworth for 6 years. I commuted exclusively by bus for years until I got up the courage to bike. I do occasionally see drunks, but that’s the only item on your list I have ever encountered.

        And in those 15 years I got out a lot, and spent a lot of time in “worse” neighborhoods than those in which I was living to visit friends and volunteer.

    • What is your purpose in writing this? To ridicule the OP? To mock people who let their guard down occasionally?

      • To clarify: my comment was directed at the original post in this thread: “My first instinct was a good jolly laugh at someone not knowing this — etc.”

        Great – good for you.

    • I’ve been in DC 5 years, living in NE, and haven’t seen any of this. I’ve seen some crazy sights … but nothing like this.

    • saf

      31 years in this city. Of that list, I have experienced #2 and #3. None of the others.

    • Once in 21 years, I encountered feces that someone had defecated on my alley facing rear fence. But you’re describing the gender of the offenders, which means they did it in front of you. I would totally have to confront someone doing that. Not sure exactly what I would do, but it would definitely involve a lot of yelling and profanity.

      Also never had problems with people stealing anything on Mother’s Day. Bird feeders? WTF?

  • Sorry – that sucks. I’ve gone to the wristlet or other very small purse that I can keep on my without too much bother. If you want to file a police report, it is pretty easy to do for petty theft, and as others have said, you might need it for insurance. You can file it online:

  • make sure to track your credit card activity. even though they didn’t take the physical cards, they may have lifted the numbers to use online/etc.

  • While I understand the need to police the ad hominem attacks in the comments, think about all of the people that will read this thread and wonder, “Who on earth is this ‘tacotaco’ character to whom everyone is addressing pointed rebuttals?!?” “What hatred did he/she spout to earn such rebukes?!?” ‘Twill remain a mystery, I suppose.

  • if it makes you feel any better, my wife had her wallet stolen out of her purse from the hook DIRECTLY AT OUR KNEES at Ted’s Bulletin on 14th St. not sure how the people did it, but we noticed as they seemed to sit for a very short period of time at the seat. professionals.

  • Thanks for the good reminder to keep your belongings with you/on you. I know I have been less than attentive at times, I’m just fortunate that nothing was stolen.

  • I’d definitely file a police report for extra security against identity theft and for proof of ownership should the phone be found. You may want to put an alert on your accounts in case they copied your credit card numbers. Highly recommend using iCloud to track your friend’s phone and/or erase your PII, if possible. Sorry that this happened to you.

  • Pickpockets in DC are no joke. I have had my wallet stolen out of my large, open-topped tote on the Metro WHILE I WAS WEARING IT and never felt a thing. I can’t imagine being shameless enough to try that, much less skillful enough to do it successfully.

    • Women with large, open-topped bags on the Metro are the first target for pickpockets. My ex-girlfriend had her wallet stolen twice on the NYC subway in open-topped bags while she had the bag over her shoulder.
      Crowded subway + open topped bag + the fact that you won’t feel anything + the wallet is usually on top in the bag because you need quick access to your Metro card = easy score for a pickpocket.

  • I get the “don’t blame the victim” stuff. But my issue here is what was left unattended – a purse with two wallets and two cell phones – and the time it was left unattended – two hours! (her exclamation point, not mine). I’m sorry but I don’t think very many people should need a reminder not to leave their wallets and phones out of sight for two hours (there’s no way either of them was keeping an eye on that purse for two hours while they were dancing).
    Maybe the reminder that is worth giving is that you shouldn’t assume that a particular bar or restaurant is safe because the patrons don’t look like what you imagine criminals look like.

    • “I’m sorry but I don’t think very many people should need a reminder not to [do this]” — Well, the original poster apparently could have used such a reminder, so she figured there might be other PoPville readers in the same boat.

  • My friend lost his wallet there, not too long ago. In the past, we’ve been lucky with lost items, but the wallet was long long gone pretty quickly.

    Your exact situation also happened to some friends in the basement at St-Ex.

  • My CC was stolen back in April out of my purse. There was a $65 charge on it , I got everything back from my bank but it still was rather shocking for a place as friendly as Wonderland.

  • Cross-body purse. Simple solution, you can wear it all the time. They have really cute ones now, since they are ‘in style’.

  • In addition to the cross-body purse option, does anyone have recommendations on a small purse (the size of a large wallet – with just enough room for a smartphone, cash/credit card, and keys) with a short strap so that it hangs just under your armpit? I have one that I bought over 10 years ago for going out and it doesn’t fit my smartphone anymore (and it’s falling apart – I still use it as a wallet). I once asked a sales woman at Macy’s if they sold something like this and she went through their entire hand bag section without finding what I was looking for.

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