“My car has been the victim of a hit and run while parked on the street three times since moving to DC three years ago”

Car 1

“Dear PoPville,

My car has been the victim of a hit and run while parked on the street three times since moving to DC three years ago, twice in the past 6 months alone! Has anyone else experienced this frequently in DC?

I don’t use my car to commute to work so it doesn’t get used every day, but I still use it at least once a week and leave it parked on the street in my neighborhood. This isn’t in just one neighborhood either – the first one occurred in October 2012 in Woodley Park, the second in February of this year in Mount Pleasant, and the third last week in Adams Morgan. All three times there was no note or anything, just me arriving at my car to go somewhere and finding it a wreck. I’m sure my insurance company hates me by now.

A frustrated car owner”

60 Comment

  • Happened to me in Adams-Morgan shortly after I’d washed and waxed the car. Narrow streets, tangly streets and a probable drunk were my guesses. MtP definitely has the problematic streets.

  • I’ve lived in DC for ten years. For five of those, we had two cars. We’ve lost two side mirrors and had one window smashed and the radio stolen (joke’s on them!). That’s it.

  • Happened to me two weeks ago in Brightwood, but luckily they were kind enough to leave a note with their name and insurance info.

    A while back, we also had a drunk driver practically bounce back and forth on our street, hitting 5+ parked cars, totaling at least one of them.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    This also happened to me three times when I had a red Geo storm. I figured the car was low and couldn’t be seen easily because of the color. It happened in different neighborhoods. The worst was near my church off of River Road in MD. She came close to totalling it and just left a tiny strand of paper with her phone number on it – refused to give me her insurance information. I never had a problem with my Honda CRV.

  • That’s pretty gnarly. Do those bumper bully things make any sort of a difference?

    • They’re not meant to prevent the sort of damage seen here; they are mostly there to prevent minor scratches from folks bumper-car-ing their way in/out of a spot.

    • They make a difference when parallel parking. I live just off the main nightlife drag of U Street and get to witness the worst parallel parkers. People will try to cram their car into the tightest of spots. The Bumper Bully helps to protect your bumper from the low impact scrapes and nudges when you’re parallel parked.

  • I’ve lived in the U St. area for about 3 years. I’ve lost both side mirrors twice and actually watched as someone hit my car and another car approximately 5 times trying to parallel park. As they started to walk away, I then walked over and thanked them for repeatedly hitting my car and asked for their insurance information. Then I also left it for other car they hit. Kind of the price of street parking in DC. Sucks, but it’s a reality.

    • RCS, just to clarify, did you ask for the insurance information because there was actual property damage to your car and the neighboring car resulting from the parallel parking attempt(s)?

      • Or just to be a jerk. Cars have bumpers for a reason, but America seems to be the only country where people are averse to using them.

        • Bumpers were useful in the 80s and before. Now that bumpers are painted the same color as the car they get easily scratched and dented. I feel that the new car models ruined the purpose of bumpers. I remember my dad pushing cars back and forth when parallel parking without causing any damages. That’s not an option anymore.

          • The purpose of modern bumpers is to protect occupants from the impact of a collision, not to protect the body of the car from damage due to light impacts. An old (metal) bumper will very quickly stop a collision, resulting in a stronger force on the diver (whiplash). A modern bumper is designed to crumple thus muting the impact.

            This design change has actually drastically reduced injuries in auto accidents, but also means modern bumpers damage more easily in low impact collisions. They generally cannot be mended and need to be replaced even after minimal impact collisions, and a damaged bumper definitely impacts resale value. Asking for insurance info is the prudent thing to do, especially since all damage may not be visible upon initial inspection.

          • Fun fact: In some crowded cities in Europe you are actually expected to make extra space by bumping the cars in front and behind you. It’s actually considered good form to leave your car in neutral to facilitate this! Can’t say I’d be a fan of it here when you can have a huge SUV and and Honda Fit all parked on the same street!

    • You asked for insurance when someone bumped into a spot? Bumping in is common practice in cities–i.e. NY (where I learned to park), Chicago, DC. I have never heard of someone asking for insurance.

      • Bumping is a common practice for those lacking skill.

        • +1000
          I grew up in NYC and pride myself on being able to parallel park in tight spaces WITHOUT relying on someone’s bumper to tell me when to stop moving in a particular direction

        • Agreed.

        • Bingo. This is not an accepted practice in my book. It is done by assholes that don’t care about the other people’s cars.

          • I used to agree. But after the first few dings on my car I gave up and now take pleasure in tapping into a spot I wouldn’t normally fit in. I tap out in front of police all the time, they seem fully aware of this custom.
            Even if you don’t agree, I don’t understand how dings and scrapes can be are worth a call to the insurance company–even when i lose a side mirror it doesn’t reach the deductible?

        • Exactly. It also must be a common practice for those with either really crappy cars or cars made before 2000. I don’t have a super fancy car, but it’s in good condition and I’d like to keep it that way. I understand parking in the city comes with dings here and there, but for the love of Pete, at least TRY to avoid hitting someone else’s car!

  • There has to be some balance in the universe to your horrible luck! Go buy a lottery ticket – there’s a good thing out there somewhere for you to cancel this out!

  • Nothing as bad as what is in the picture, but yes my car gets hit regularly when left on the street, and not just minor nicks in the bumper (broken mirrors, serious scratches, other cars’ paint left on my car). My car gets hit less now in Columbia Heights compared to when I lived in Truxton Circle, but it’s still a pretty regular thing.

  • gotryit

    Only once in 10 years for me. It happened during the really bad snowstorm last year at about 2am. This guy in a pickup truck was spinning his tires and getting stuck all over the place. Over the course of a half hour, he backed up into the side of my nearly brand new minivan. I was able to watch it all on surveillance cameras a couple of days later. I still had to pay $200 deductible, but it was easy to prove to the insurance company that it was a hit and run…

  • In six years I’ve had two windows smashed, one drunken hit and run that racked up $3000+ worth of damage (she wrecked her axle, so she got out and started walking away and got caught, I paid nothing), an additional drivers side mirror knocked off, and a passenger side mirror which was broken off when it was on the curb side.

    I can now change my side mirror myself in about 20 minutes.

  • I realize with street parking you often take what you can get, but I try to park mid-block in a string of cars whenever possible, trying not to be the car next to the alley or intersection. A few bumper taps and scrapes I can live with on a 13 year old car. Also, fold your mirrors. A few less inches sticking into the street can make a difference.

  • This happens in cities like DC, Boston, NYC, Chicago all the time. Great reason to not have a car in the city. If you depend on street parking 100% of the time, this will happen eventually. Buy an off-street spot or sell your car is my advice.

    • Or just own a beater car. No way in hell I would buy a “luxury” vehicle (or even a new car fresh off the lot!) and rely on street parking. You get what you pay for.

    • never had a problem in Chicago. Only here and people really do suck as drivers, city or suburbs, here.,

  • Yup! Had someone put a significant dent in driver side door….guessing from doing a 3 point turn and hit me while doing so. Had some others too…..which is precisely why I don’t have a nice vehicle and street park in the city. Don’t use for daily commutes either.

  • I’m not 100% positive, but I’m pretty sure a bicycle did that. Cars, and their drivers, are used to maneuvering city streets, so I doubt they could do that kind of destruction.

    • Do you mean the door dent anonymous at 2:52 mentions, or the bumper damage in the picture? I can totally believe the significant door dent (I did just that to my dad’s car while on my bike as a teenager and remember the attendant lecture to this day). The bumper torn mostly off, I just have a hard time thinking that was a bike.

  • Further proof the inhabitants of this city are terrible people. Sorry for your bad luck.

  • Sorry for your bad streak of luck. Out of curiosity OP, have your insurance rates increased at all?

    • My rates are the same so far – after the second time my car was hit, my insurance (State Farm) sent me a note saying something along the lines of “we’re concerned that this has happened to you twice in two years…” but they didn’t actually do anything like raise my rates. Hopefully the won’t decide to raise them after this time!

  • Yes, happened to mine, though not as bad as this. I have a cracked bumper that my insurance company refuses to pay for, since the person didn’t leave a note. I’ve also had my rear vent window smashed twice, and one of the times, someone took my Apples to Apples game! I moved to Baltimore, and surprisingly, my car windows have never been broken, even though I sometimes leave stuff in the back seat. I do, however, still get tons of scrapes on the back bumper. Cities, man.

    • That’s a bummer about your insurance. My car bumper was knocked off like in the picture, and State Farm paid for it out of an uninsured motorist fund because the other driver didn’t bother leaving a note.

    • The cost of living in the city.

      When filing a claim for a hit and run, get a police report and ask your insurance to file it as an uninsured motorist hit your car. with GEICO in DC the deductible goes from $500 to $200.

  • Most likely this was someone who turned to early into a space or driveway and hit the front bumper cover from the back. The only thing holding it on in that area is a couple of screws, and even if the screws stay put the force of impact will break the plastic. Same thing happened to my car in Columbia Heights, and of course the driver didn’t leave a note.

  • My car was totaled while parked on New Hampshire Ave in Columbia Heights 3 days after I moved to my new place. My partner and I are thinking of taking an old car from a family member, but I worry that it will fall to the same fate…

  • happened to me once, but “luckily” for me, it involved 2 other cars and was bad enough for them to call the police, so i had a nice note on my windshield from the officer about picking up the police report. if they hadn’t called the police i would have been in the boat as the poster

  • I had the same problem: my car was hit 3 times in less than 2 years in Columbia Heights. The final straw was my side mirror getting smashed. However, they completely lost their passenger side mirror as it was the object that hit my mirror and I found it under my car. I ended up just selling it and going car-less. It’s been about 3 years and it’s been much better for my wallet.

  • Just last week we had an incident on our street (in Shaw) where a bunch of teenagers (too young to drive, I was told they averaged somewhere around 13 years old) stole a car from a parking garage in NE, then did loops around our street through an alley. I think they hit at least two cars in the process. At one point the kids all exited the vehicle and forgot to put it in park, and it hit another car. At that point I think they realized the neighbors had noticed, so they ditched the car in the alley and took off. MPD was quick to respond and stayed on scene until the owner was able to arrive and retrieve his vehicle.

  • Jeez, all these posts make me so happy to have free garage parking! I am in the market to buy now and I am thinking a parking spot is a must because I want the car to last a long time/not be hit all the time.

    • Eh I’ve had a car in DC for 12 years. I had only one incident in that entire time where the side mirror was hit and I was able to replace it myself and not even involve insurance.

  • In the past 15 years (being the length of time I’ve had my car), I’ve had 9 hit & run accidents parked on the street. And it has been in all different neighborhoods – Cleveland Park (1), Friendship Heights (5), Dupont Circle (2), Glover Park/North Georgetown (1). Actually, the last one the guy left a note and then proceeded to be the biggest ass in the world when I called him as he offered me a tiny amount and would not pay the amount of the estimate, or use his insurance company (my insurance company got him to pay though). I have lost side view mirrors and had my driver’s side door replaced 2 times. I had the back end completely smashed in. My car is a silver 1999 Honda Civic and I think it must be invisible. I was rear-ended driving it on Rock Creek Parkway before I made the first payment – that should have been a sign! My first (and likely last unless I move out of the city) new car.

    • OMG, mine’s a 2000 silver Honda Civic! They ARE invisible!

    • I am close to 9 as well, not including smashed windows for no reason (I don’t leave anything visible). The guys at the body shop actually started to laugh at me I was going so often. I’d say see you next time. My tally is something like – 1 car completely totaled on new years day many years ago (tough to figure that one). My wife’s car was hit badly 3 or four times, mine at least 3 times, and someone even crashed through our retaining wall in a stolen mini van. Good times.

  • saf

    I have parked on the street (mostly. Sometimes in the back yard) since I got a car in 1987. Had one hit and run – in 1987.

  • I had 1. window smashed (nothing visible – nothing stolen, not leave glove box and center console open when I park so everyone can see nothing is in there) (Hill East)

    2. Side mirror smashed (now bend it in on the street side when I park, but who knows could have been an a*hole walking down the street) (Hill East)

    3. Scraped above rear wheel (which I am 99.9% sure was my dang neighbor who parks in the assigned spot next to me, but I didn’t have a video so nothing could be done.) (ASSISGNED Glover Park parking)

    I think I just accept that these are just part of DC car registration costs.

  • And this is why car insurance rates are sky high in the city. My insurance went up 50% when I moved from Northern VA to DC and I park in an underground garage, not on the street where my car will be damaged or vandalized. I’ve also had a car broken into in CH so they could steal the empty backpack out of my rear seat…

    Anyone else around CH notice the rash of smashed car windows lately? I’ve seen piles of glass on the curb, sometimes tinted (definitely a break-in) in 4 different places over the past week or so. Keep your eyes peeled late at night.

    It kills me that people in the city think bumping other parked cars is normal, damaging other people’s property so you can have a convenient parking space. Either learn the boundaries of your car or find a bigger spot! This is where driving a jeep with big metal bumpers comes in handy. Bump me and your car will surely be the only one with damage.

  • It happened to me this past winter in Mt Pleasant. Just a bent fender, nothing like the picture above, but it cost me $500 with the deductible so it was pretty frustrating. I do think it’s a pretty major problem here.

  • This happened to me July 4th for the third time this year. First time I was parked IN MY WORK PARKING GARAGE. Most recently I was parked three cars in from the corner of 7th and Longfellow, no note, huge mushed-in dent in driver’s side door. I dropped my car off this morning at the shop and was like, “Whatever invisible target is on my car, could you please remove it?” It’s annoying. It’s a city. It happened to me with nearly equal frequency when I lived in the Midwest on a narrow street without driveways. Seriously, invisible target.

  • I saw a parking hit-and-run a few years ago in Eastern Market. Someone was backing in, cracked the bumper on the car behind, then immediately sped off. Only me and 1 other woman were on the street, and both too far away to get any details on the car. People need to be responsible for their f-ups!

  • And with me no notes, ever. Just a big f-you stranger.

  • I was biking to the gym at 6:15am the other day and saw an MD driver slam into the car behind it when it was getting out of a parallel parking space – and then drive off. This was around 15th and Church NW – it was a silver-ish volvo station wagon that got hit. I memorized the license plate of the driver, but didn’t have a pen or paper with me, so I called the cops. It didn’t sound like they cared at all. A few minutes later, I passed a bike cop and told him about the situation – again, he didn’t seem to care.

  • Yeah……… it happened to me several times too over the past two years too. Just like with you, I just came out to my car in the morning, and it was smashed up. The last incident was three months ago in which my driver side rear mirror was swiped off and that whole side of the car scratched. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! hahahaha. Rest assured.

  • This is making me feel like my garage is worth more than my house.

  • Solution: sell your car, get a bike.

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