Brazen Laptop Snatching in Columbia Heights

3415 11th Street, NW

A reader sends word of this unfortunate incident yesterday:

“My laptop got snatched right out from under me while sitting outside at the Coupe this morning. I chased them down the street but they got away. It sucks. Tell your readers to watch themselves!

The folks at the Coupe were very nice, by the way. They provided their surveillance footage to the cops. A couple of folks living on 10th street came up and helped when they saw it happen, including one guy whose friend chased after the car with the guys who took my laptop. They were really nice, and went out of their way to be helpful. The whole thing happened right at the same time (I later found out) the power went out at the city’s communications center yesterday, so the cops were standing around with dead radios for about 15 minutes…”

29 Comment

  • maxwell smart

    You would think the City’s Communication Center for the Police would have a back-up generator or something. I feel that’s pretty unsafe.

  • Any description of the perps? Or the car?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      @DCPoliceDept · 23h

      Robbery Snatch_Monroe & 11th St NW_LOF B/M, tall slim build, wearing a tank top LS in a grey small suv w/5BC6669 unk state

      • so if they got the plate(minus state)…it should be a pretty open and shut case, no?

        • Prince Of Petworth

          I was once on a jury where a drug deal was made in between two undercover officers, literally they were all sitting in a car together, and that was not an open and shut case. So no, I don’t think a license place will make it one.

        • Not open and shut, but at least a decent lead (as opposed to, “the suspect is a man between 18-30, 5’11” with a slim build, wearing a blut shirt and jeans.”)

          • It was my laptop — I haven’t heard back from the investigators. The laptop has already been wiped (according to Apple, whose system knows it’s been reformatted, but can’t/won’t say the IP address of who wiped it). I suspect POP’s right — even with a plate, I probably shouldn’t be waiting by the door for its safe return. 🙂

  • So I guess we’re supposed to ignore the fact that crimes of this sort are a regular occurrence in Columbia Hights.

    • I know that a lot of us want to imagine that we can use our nice things in public, but between things like this and the constant Metro reminder to not to display valuables in the open I think that the easiest policy to implement would be to not bring our nice things outside.

    • Does this happen regularly in Columbia Heights? I’m just asking because it’s the first post about this kind of thing I have seen in this forum. Maybe there are posts on the OneList.
      As far as the suggestion (below) that we should not bring our nice things outside, I don’t agree. I just think you have to be as cautious and aware of your surroundings as you possibly can. Cell phones get snatched; iPads get snatched; wallets get lifted from pocketbooks hanging on the backs of chairs. It sucks to have to think about these kinds of things, but you do.

      • Are you joking? If not, well yes – this does happen regularly in CH. I was in the Tynan coffee shop on Irving when twice laptops got stolen. Another time, also on Irving in front of the Signal Financial, a lady had the smartphone she was using taken right away from her ear by a middle school aged kid.

        • These things happen. Let’s not act like things are insane. I live across from room 11, have many very expensive things that I use in my lawn and leave on the stoop unattended for a few minutes and have never had issues.

    • I couldn’t keep pretending anymore. We moved out of CH earlier this year.

  • That’s crazy. I hope you get your laptop back and/or find the thieves. Incidents like this make me even more worried about even holding my iPhone out in public. My coworkers think I’m way too paranoid about being robbed in broad daylight, and then people do this and prove my fears. I wish it wasn’t so.

  • I’m rather surprised this person was brazen enough to be using their laptop on the patio in the first place. I’ve had friends whose phones have been snatched from the patio, and even straight out of their hands on the sidewalk and metro. I would never use my laptop the way this person was.

  • Can you provide details on exactly how it was stolen? I frequent the Coupe regularly and want to know if folks are yanking it from your hands while you’re using it, stealing from bags, etc.

    • Donna, I was sitting at one of the tables outside, working all morning. I was at the row of tables closest to the sidewalk, and in hindsight it would’ve been smarter to be on the inner row of tables. Two guys did the snatching, and there were two more waiting in the car for them a block away. So, they were pretty organized. I’m a reasonably fit guy, so it didnt really seem like they were targeting people who were slow or elderly.

  • Why don’t all electronics – laptop, ipad, phone whatever – simply have a “self-destruct” ability? You set up a code when you buy it – it get’s stolen – you call up with the code and kill the thing, rendering it useless. No market to sell, no motivation to steal.

    I’m certainly not defending petty thievery, but easy picking crimes have flourished for centuries. It is irresponsible (though profitable) for Apple et al to not design this into every device.

    • After much complaining from consumers and legislators, the major cellphone manufacturers – including Apple, Google, and Samsung – have pledged to equip their phones with a kill switch, starting in 2015. Not sure whether they will do the same with iPads or other kinds of tablets. Seems to me that any device that has to be connected to the internet at some point in order to be functional could incorporate this feature.

  • Sparta

    Tommy Wells is asking people to contact him if they experienced a crime during the Police power outage and couldn’t get assistance quickly.

    Couldn’t hurt to add your experience.

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