Dear PoPville – Suspicious Activity in Mount Pleasant


“Dear PoPville,

Wednesday around 11:30am a young man was observed by a neighbor on my back porch looking in windows and trying the back door. He then left the back of the house and came to the front door, knocked, and tried to converse with me. Upon refusing to open the door and with my large dogs snarling and jumping on the door, he left. A few pictures of him were obtained as he walked away from the house. See below.

Where: 1800 block of Newton St NW
When: 12/3/14, 11:30am
Who: Male, African American, approximately 20 years old, about 6ft tall, round face, earring in at least one ear, black jacket, black hoodie, black cap, white tennis shoes”

53 Comment

  • This sounds awfully familiar to an issue we’re having in 16th Street Heights. There has been a spike in burglaries between Kennedy Street and Military Road along 16th Street where the perp(s) comes by the house in the middle of the day, look to see if anyone is home and then breaks in … usually through a back door or basement window. These have all happened in the middle of the work day. There were four burglaries within a three block radius over the past three weeks and have this MO.

    Naturally, emails to the Mayor-elect’s office (aka the our ward’s councilmember) about this have gone unanswered.

  • We were recently burglarized at 4 pm on a Friday afternoon a couple of blocks from there. Neighbor saw someone in passing that matched your description knocking on our door. He ended up breaking into our basement tenant – we think because our dog would have responded to the knocking upstairs.

  • This happened to me at 19th and Park a few weeks ago as well. Young man matching a similar description attempted to get in back door of row house and was also trying to look into basenent windows. He did not knock at the front door, however. This was around 7 PM on a Sunday, lights on inside and out, and people clearly at home.

    I called the police immediately, but by the time they arrived, he was gone. Be aware, and keep your doors and windows locked.

    • If the lights are on inside and outside the house, what kind of thought process is going on with these perps? I think this aspect is the most frightening. The OP’s story is also scary, because he or she made it clear that they were in the house, but the perp continued to want to interact. What would he have done if the resident opened the door? Yikes. These are aggressive people.

  • Out of curiosity, what did he say when you answered the door?

  • Tried to converse with you? What did he say?

    • I too am curious about this. And did the neighbor who saw the guy at the OP’s back door relay this info to the OP _before_ the guy knocked at the front door, or not until later.

  • I have a problem with the posting of peoples’ photos like this. It’s suspicious, but you have not proven that he’s done anything wrong. It’s not fair to post his photo under these circumstances.

    • No expectation of privacy on a public street, and this man clearly appears to be casing the joint, so he should certainly expect his photo may end up on the internet. I’m not sure what exactly is unfair about it. You seriously think there is a better than not chance that this man who is checking doors isn’t up to something nefarious…Really???

    • As presented, at a minimum he’s guilty of criminal trespass (entering the property on the back porch) and attempted burglary (trying to open the door by turning the doorknob).

      Posting his photo is entirely justified. The neighbors deserve to know that they should be on alert if they see this individual.

    • Are you trolling? What’s the problem? What needs proven? There was a description of events that took place and this was the person who did it. It seems very strange and worth noting. He has not been prosecuted and he has no expectation of privacy on the street. It might be helpful to people who live in this area.

      • Must be a troll – I got the same comments when I asked PoP to post pictures of 2 perps…even after I made it clear in my email that the pictures were taken by the homeowner and his neighbor after they chased the guys photographed out of the home.

        Common sense is not so common.

    • Enough with the DC liberal guilt. If he doesn’t want his picture taken, then he shouldn’t be breaking the law.

        • The other day I went to pick up a journal I’d lost that someone in my hood happened to find. I went to the address she gave me but no one answered when I knocked. So I rushed home to check the address again and realized I had the wrong house number.

          All the while, though, I was thinking, “Whoever is watching me from the window thinks I am up to no good.” However, I was just going to get my journal and had the wrong house. So, who knows?

          • You didn’t check doors or go around back did you? I don’t think people simply knocking on doors are rousing suspicions.

  • i hope you called the police, or that you call the police.

  • I saw someone suspicious enter a home on 18th & Harvard a few days ago around 9am. I couldn’t tell if it was a break-in or maybe a contractor, but it was not the owner of the home. How do I found out if a robbery was reported to the police? They do not match the description of the person in this post.

    • Shouldn’t you have reported this to the police? If you know the person is not the homeowner and you think it’s suspicious, why wouldn’t you call the police?

      • Because as I mentioned, it could have been a contractor for all I know. I don’t want to be accused of racial profiling.

        • Right. So if you call the police and they come and check things out and the guy presents his licensed-plumber credentials, he’s then going to track YOU down to accuse you of racial profiling?
          How would you feel if a neighbor of yours neglected to call the police about someone breaking into YOUR house/apartment because he/she didn’t want to be “accused of racial profiling”?
          I think we all recognize that racial profiling is a problem… but ignoring suspicious activity is a problem too.

        • Are you really concerned that much about the contractor’s feelings?

          I’m sure the homeowner wouldn’t be upset.

          The police are pretty savvy at determining if a burglary is occurring. Unless somethings suspicious, we’re talking five to ten minutes of this guy’s time.

        • Did you call the police because you saw a black/brown/white/whatever person enter the home or because you saw someone who doesn’t live there enter the home? If the latter then why are you worried about accusations of racial profiling? Besides, who do you think is going to accuse you of that?

        • I hope my neighbors don’t feel this way. (trying to say this the nicest way possible so I don’t run afoul of the PoP comment policy.

  • All of these stories are always missing the part when you call the police. I feel like that could be more effective than posting it to blogs and listservs.

    • Not if the police are useless. As someone who has called the police before and finding them utterly disengaged about everything, I find it more useful to alert my neighbors through listservs and posts because they would actually give a f*ck.

      • I really hope you are not one of my neighbors. I’m sorry you had that one time when you weren’t satisfied with their response, but many of us find MPD to be pretty responsive in general. Besides, maybe your neighbors give a f*** but they can’t arrest criminals like the cops can.

        • Not once. I don’t harbor these feelings about one time occurrences. This is my experience in the multiple times I’ve called from big things like burglaries to smaller things all across the city in 7 yrs here. I’m glad if your experiences were different. I wish that was the case for me (and also for the numerous friends and neighbors that I know share the same feeling). I find it more effective to alert people through neighbors and blogs because they are more intimate with your neighborhood and well…live near you so they are better eyes and generally care more. Not a police officer who generally can’t do anything about someone who is long gone by the time they get there or whenever they decide to show up. And when they do, the description you can provide often isn’t enough for them to go on so ultimately they can’t and don’t do anything about it anyways. So it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

        • Moreover, if you think the police is going to arrest someone who tries the back door and then talked to the owners, you must live in a pleasantville part of DC that I don’t. Alert the neighbors so that when the jerk actually breaks down the door of someone that isn’t there, we can call the cops and hope they show up in time.

          • You can do both you know (i.e. call the cops *and* alert your neighbors). And you’ve just made the point that I was making: if there is illegal activity you will need to call the cops. Of course they can’t arrest someone who isn’t breaking the law. But it’s going to help them do their job if the know what kind of suspicious activity people have been observing and where. And honestly it’s probably good for them to interact with residents as much as possible. I don’t think it’s a waste of time for them to be out and about talking to residents finding out what people are concerned about. Would you rather they just spend an extra few minutes sitting in their cruiser? THAT sounds like a waste of time to me.

          • Yes, that is a waste of time sitting in their cruiser. But you’re also assuming the ones sitting in there cruiser appreciate these kinds of calls, which I would say majority of the time they don’t which is why the are sitting in their cruisers. The good ones will be patrolling. So no…if you’re sitting in your cruiser I rather not have you respond to my call and get a snarky response about how unhelpful I am at helping them do their job because there are no perpetrators in sight and I’ve given them a description about the person that can be basically 50% of the population. Just stay in your cruisers and play your Candy Crush.

          • The police may not arrest someone who is casing a home but they can sure as heck stop and question someone who is casing a home. And maybe that stop and questioning will reveal that the person is a felon wanted on some outstanding charge. Or uncover evidence of a burglary the person just committed. Or at the very least convince that person that he needs to take his criminal plan to some other area.

      • Even if they can’t do anything at that time, I’d like to have a police report on file should something inevitable happen. Also, if they had multiple reports the may cruise by the neighborhood periodically. Being alert doesn’t do anything, I still have to go to work and leave my home/car/whatever unattended. If I’m home, I’m not stupid enough to open the door for someone who has no business being around regardless of an “alert.”

      • I’ve found the police in Mt. Pleasant to be very helpful, quick and willing to work with you. A little over a year ago I noticed that my basement windows were being tampered with frequently. I called the station in my district and told them about the problem and asked that they increase police presence in the area. They followed through and I noticed a frequent, visible police presence in the area for weeks after my call. I hope EVERYONE who has noticed similar incidents has called their police district to let them know what is going on.

      • figby

        Amen. My neighbor called the police while my apartment was being burglarized. They showed up 40 minutes later, after I had been completely cleaned out.

  • PLEASE, PLEASE PEOPLE CALL THE POLICE. Our home was burglarized this week in exactly this way (we were at work, they used a ladder to crawl through a window that wasn’t barred). The police came and got some VERY good fingerprints of who did it, so if they can start to connect some of these burglaries through that it’s going to be easier to catch whoever did it to us. PLEASE!!

    • Also, out of curiosity, does anyone know if all of the stories being reported in these comments are normal (are home burglaries really that common?) Am I just hyper aware now that I’m a victim, or is there actually a rash of home burglaries happening right now?
      I really want it to be the latter, because believing we were targeted as part of a specific crime wave is somehow more comforting than believing that home invasions in the middle of the day are just a normal, expected occurrence when you live in DC.

      • Home burglaries are extremely common in DC. This type of casing has been going on in DC forever. It is also the time of year that there is plenty of new, unopened Christmas gifts being purchased.

        • SFT

          Exactly! Keep all boxes with identifying marks (e.g. 55″ TV, XBox, etc) in the house until garbage day. Otherwise your back ally is just screaming “hey, there’s a brand new TV in here just waiting for you to come in and steal it”. And invest in curtains and blinds for when you aren’t home!

          • And if/when you do take them out, break them down into small pieces that fit into your recycling bin so it’s not obvious that you’re throwing away the box for that flatscreen tv/macbook pro/whatever you just got.

      • Unfortunately (from my neighbors who keep a pretty good eye out for me), I know for a fact that my home is cased on a regular basis. Luckily, I have bars on all entrances, a large dog, and a home security system. I’d like to set up a camera too. I think thieves know that during the day most houses are empty because people are at work. They don’t care that it’s light out.

  • My neighbor on the 1800 block of Park Road caught three guys breaking into the backyard of a house in the middle of the day on Tuesday. The men split when they realized they were being watched and got away before the cops arrived. It seems, however, that homes in our neighborhood may be being cased.

  • OP (OR ANYONE ELSE REPORTING SEEING THIS GUY). Was it one of these men?

  • Fresh off a PSA meeting last night, officers reiterated how important good quality images or video are in capturing burglars. They usually know the perps by sight and, if there is a crime and you can provide video from a personal security camera, that is one of the best tools to catch these guys.

  • Both the neighbor and the resident placed separate 911 calls to the police on Wednesday morning.

  • I live in SE now and have never had a problem with crime or burglaries, but I will be moving to petworth in a couple of months and I’m terrified. Where are the police? Are they not patrolling in high crime areas?

    • “but I will be moving to petworth in a couple of months and I’m terrified.”
      That’s where I stopped reading. I don’t know where you’re getting your information that you’re “terrified” but either you’re getting bad information or you are not reacting appropriately. Petworth is not crime-free but it’s not high-crime either. Not sure where in SE you are moving from but there’s a chance that your new neighborhood may be safer (statistically speaking, anyway).

    • Don’t worry. Just make sure to take the normal precautions that anyone living in a city should- make sure windows and doors are locked, etc. I’ve noticed that a lot of these are crimes of opportunity- getting in through an open window or an unlocked basement window. If you look at burglary stats, it’s not much worse than other parts of the city. Petworth is a great community.

      • Additional advice:
        If you have window bars/security doors, keep them.
        If you have an alarm system, use it.
        If you don’t have an alarm system, consider getting one.
        Consider adding outdoor lighting.

    • I’ll second what the commenter say above. The burglary rate in Petworth is no higher than SE or any other similar urban area in DC. Muggings are actually much lower since it’s a little further from the main nightlife districts with more targets. And since there is a lot less public housing than Columbia Heights or Bloomingdale there’s a lot less random violence. I moved here a few years ago and was similarly scared, but actually found the neighborhood much safer and more welcoming than any other I’ve lived in while in DC.

    • Dont be worried. I moved here 2 years ago (and am the sterotypic gentrifier as well) and have been nothing but welcomed by absolutely everyone on my block (Delafield in N. Petworth) or that I have encountered walking my dog. I have never lived in an area where I felt truly PART of the community like I do here. I have no doubt that everyone on my block would look out for me and my family, as I would (and do) for them. I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience in Petworth. We did put bars on our basement level windows, because we live in a city. Its a normal precaution to take. And we got to know all our neighbors, main street and alley, because we are nice friendly people and so are they. We know the kids in the neighborhood too, and they know us. Even if we hadnt taken the time to get to know our neighbors, I truly feel they would watch out of us just as they would any long term resident in the area, because, overall, Petworth is good people.

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