“Just a warning to all swimmers to lock up your possessions when you are at the pool and not make the same mistake I did!”

2500 Georgia Avenue, NW

Ed. Note: Just like when one’s car is broken into and we are reminded not leave any valuables (or anything really) visible – yes many people know this but some need a reminder – no need to berate the OP. It’s easy to get complacent from time to time and this is just a warning to remind others to be more vigilant. Thanks for understanding.

“Dear PoPville,

I was at the Banneker Pool on Georgia Avenue this past Sunday afternoon with a friend. A large group of kids, about high-school age came and sat next to us. My friend and I left our pool bags with purses inside them on our pool chairs while we swam. My friend left earlier than myself, and once I was in the locker room getting dressed to leave, I realized my purse was missing from my pool bag. I checked the spot where I was sitting, and it wasn’t there.

I reported the theft to the lifeguard who was working in the lost and found, and he said the bag hadn’t been turned in and he called the police for me. Just then the other lifeguard came out of the men’s locker room with my purse which had my keys and wallet inside, but the cash, credit cards, Smarttrip and cell phone were all gone. The police took the report but refused me a ride home, though I was stranded without money or a phone and my friend had already left. He said taking me home was out of his jurisdiction, which I understand but I was pretty upset about being robbed and about being stranded.

Just a warning to all swimmers to lock up your possessions when you are at the pool and not make the same mistake I did!

I want to thank the Banneker lifeguards who were very helpful and let me cancel my cards from their personal cell phones. Also thanks to the lady driving the H4 bus who let me ride home for free when I told her what happened.”

44 Comment

  • UGH. I’m sorry this happened to you…

  • That really sucks…so nice of the bus driver to give you a free ride in that situation, though!

  • no place is safe, is there?

  • Jeez, this is depressing! I am just imagining this person canceling all the credit cards and then begging the bus driver for a ride home. Sorry to hear all your stuff was stolen and thanks for the reminder.

  • Ugh. Sorry. Does anyone know if there are lockers at Banneker?

  • That sucks. I am sorry.

    Just this past weekend I was thinking about this. I took my kids to Yards Park, the big wading pool, and just left our pool bag in the grass in the sea of strollers, backpacks, and pool bags. When we left I grabbed our bag and realized I had basically just left my wallet and phone unattended for over an hour. I was lucky and nothing was stolen. But still, always a good reminder to keep your stuff with you or locked up.

  • Sorry you were robbed and stranded. Police could have been more helpful.
    Having been aware of the need to not leave any valuables unattended as far back as I can remember (for sure since starting to go to my local city pool at age 7), I really wonder where people here grew up — must have been some place idyllic.
    That’s a harsh way to have to learn about city life.

    • Either they grew up somewhere idyllic or just, you know, forgot. I’ve been here forever and know all the rules about life in the city, but I still sometimes just space out and do something stupid. It happens.

      • burritosinstereo

        +1. It sucks that this happened to the OP, and yeah, she probably could have been more vigilant about keeping an eye on her stuff, but I think being like, “welcome to the city!” is a bit harsh.

        When I used to live near Philly I was out with a friend and we went out dancing; I left my purse off to the side of the dance floor and when I went back to get it 20 minutes later, it was gone. My friend let me freak out for a solid 15 minutes before she told me she had hidden it to teach me a lesson – dick move, but it worked. I don’t think it’s fair to tell the victim here that this is some like, rite of passage/lesson learned situation (like mine was). She got robbed!

        • I don’t think it’s technically a “robbery” since there was no force or threat of force. A theft took place, but no one was robbed. From wiki:

          Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear.[2 Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery is differentiated from other forms of theft (such as burglary, shoplifting or car theft) by its inherently violent nature (a violent crime); whereas many lesser forms of theft are punished as misdemeanors, robbery is always a felony in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two. Under English law, most forms of theft are triable either way, whereas robbery is triable only on indictment.

          • Yes, those terms have technical legal definitions… but in ordinary speech, people tend to use them interchangeably.

          • When you hear a sports fan say “we were robbed!” do you text them that definition as well?

  • Wow that really SUCKS. Ladies, this is a major city… NEVER leave your purse unattended ANYWHERE in DC. It’s bound to happen. People are watching and waiting for you to slip. There are lockers for a reason. Thanks for sharing your story, I have friends who swim there and will pass this on.

  • Is it really out of a police officer’s jurisdiction to give you a ride home after you’ve been robbed??

    • I’m not sure if they are allowed to, but I took that to mean she lived physically out of his geographical jurisdiction that he couldn’t leave. Not sure which the officer meant though.

  • Ugggg – this is so frustrating. But, I have to agree with the other people here – bring a house key, an ID, and a credit card. The housekey can go on a little cord around your wrist or ankle and the ID and credit card can go in a pocket since they can get wet. Leave the phone, the rest of your keys, and the rest of your wallet at home. Personally, I wouldn’t trust those lockers. I haven’t seen the ones at that particular pool, but the ones at the other pools seemed kinda flimsy. It’s okay to go without being connected for a couple hours. With an ID and a credit card that you never have to leave anywhere since they can go in the pool with you, you can get into the pool (ID), and get food or a cab if you need it (credit card), and with your housekeys, you can get back to the rest of your things when you’re done! Besides, for me, part of the relaxing element of the pool is being inaccessible for a couple hours anyway.

    • Rockandroar

      Where exactly on my swimsuit would you expect me to find a pocket? I’m a woman who doesn’t wear whatever you’re imagining. If I’m going to put my Metro Card, ID, and credit card in the pocket of my clothes, why wouldn’t I just bring my purse and lock it up, since locking up my clothes is the only thing preventing someone from going through my pockets in the first place?

    • “… and the ID and credit card can go in a pocket since they can get wet.”
      Women’s bathing suits don’t have pockets.

      • Well, then you’d have to either ask a guy who came with you to hold those two things in his pocket or if you were only there with other women, put it in the top of the swimsuit. If you need examples of how to do it, go to the Volta pool and look at one of the many many many women who tuck an ID and a credit card into a bikini top on any given day. Or you could simply hold them in your hand. Geesh – sorry I tried to be helpful!

        • Nobody would have found fault with your advice if you’d preceded it with “If you’re a dude wearing swim trunks…”
          I think there are outdoorsy companies that make waterproof pouch things for precisely this kind of situation. I’m not much of a beach/pool person, but if I were, I’d look into it.
          Tucking an ID/credit card into one’s cleavage or swimsuit just sounds like tempting fate for it to fall out… and to do so at the deep end.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Or just use one of these: http://www.amphipod.com/products/holders/musicelectronics/airflow-microstretch-plus-belt. If you’re worried about getting stuff wet, it can go in a Zip-Lock bag. You obviously can’t fit your laptop or your bike in here, but it should fit the essentials.

      • FANNY PACK! Practical, Fashionable, and it will reduce the chances of getting bothered by someone hitting on you!

  • Dang that sucks. I always leave my family’s bags unattended at the pool. But I usually bring the bare necessities (limited cash, 1 credit card, etc.) and try to keep an eye on the bags while in the pool. Guess you’re lucky, until you’re not.

  • Sucks. I saw the same thing happen to a family last year at Francis pool where I guess after some time in the water they came back to their towels and things had been stolen. I had a wallet snatched from my purse just last week so yes, good reminder to be aware of your surroundings and your stuff.

  • I don’t know why PoP bothers with the “no need to berate the OP” comment when people always end up berating the OP, even if it’s done in a passive-aggressive way.
    Having said that, I will “berate” the OP – not for leaving her purse unattended but for the implication that it was stolen by the “large group of kids” that sat next to her. Anyone in that complex could have stolen her stuff. Did the friend’s purse get taken too? I assume not because if it had, it would have been part of the story. And speaking of the friend, if it were me leaving early, I would not have felt comfortable just leaving my friend’s stuff out in the open. I would have given my friend a heads up and a friendly reminder that she might want to be a bit more vigilant since there would only be one pair of eyes watching her stuff instead of two.

  • It’s also worth remembering that locking up your valuables – or whatever you don’t want stolen – is no guarantee that they won’t get stolen. I have seen signs in the locker room at the Wilson Pool, the Tacoma Pool, and the three Washington Sports Clubs I use in the DC area warning of locker break ins. I guess if the OP had put her stuff in a locker and it got broken into, the critics would question why she would lock anything of value in a public locker.

  • try getting a big safety pin, n slip ur key onto it, n pin it ur suit. or, get one of those ‘plastic ties’/handcuffs, slide ur key onto it, n attach it to ur wrist. of course u will have to get the lifeguard to snip it off before u leave.

  • …or, how ab a wristlet?

  • I had some money stolen out of a locker at the Harry Thomas Rec Center (oh the irony) a few weeks ago. I thought I had it locked properly but when I returned to the locker it was open and the cash gone. Either I didn’t lock it properly, or the thief had some way of breaking the relatively flimsy plastic thingy that held the thing together. Fortunately, the thief left my credit cards etc. alone and I was able to get home without major aggravation.

    • Beware of thieves leaving credit cards behind if they broke into your locker. They could’ve written all the info down, and if your ID was in there, they have your billing address (presumably).
      I would cancel all those cards.

  • I have this cool little rubbery bag that straps to my arm. It’s waterproof so you could put your phone in it along with all the previously mentioned items. Also a big plus because I look like a bond girl when I wear it.

  • Unfortunately, this is why I won’t go swimming. My hearing aids obviously won’t go in the water, and I’m not about to leave $5,000 worth of medical technology in a flimsy locker.

  • I am often surprised how cavalier people can be with their possessions while in public. Maybe it is because of where I grew up, but I never let any thing of value out of my grasp for even a moment. I learned from a young age that there are people among us who will steal anything, quickly, without you noticing. I never trust anyone. Yeah, I’m cynical, but I speak from experience.

  • They also break into lockers while you’re in the pool thinking your stuff is safe just because you brought along your handy dandy masterlock padlock. Had this happen to me twice all at the thought to be high brow Dupont Circle pool located behind that school, the DC Francis Public Pool. Nothing’s safe in the city. Always watch your back and wear clean underwear.

  • Hey just thunk of it: This would make a good summer job for some young go getter; coat or hatcheck valuables check point person at the public pools. They sit there all day taking and checking I.D.s anyway why not this? Or maybe this could be a lucrative non ‘foodtruck’ portable idea for someone rent a portable mobile locker situation..

    • Quincy-Street-Neighbor

      BRILLIANT IDEA! and an excellent market opportunity.

    • A place to check valuables?? Just about any place that checks coats, hats, luggage, etc. specifically tells you NOT to check valuables and that if you do, they’re not responsible for what happens to them.

  • I did not grow up in anything resembling an “idyllic” place, and all the pools had those “$.25/locking” lockers, with the keys on stretchy bands you could put around your wrist or arm while swimming. Why wouldn’t DC pools have those? They’re fairly hard to pry open and rely only on someone bringing a quarter, not a lock of their own…

  • If i use a locker, I don’t put anything valuable in them – maybe a few bucks, spare keys to my home, never anything that will be a huge problem if lost, and I leave the rest at home … because I know lockers are broken into all the time. Easy enough to do when going swimming. But I don’t do this at my gym, as I’m often coming or going to someplace else, so have a full load of stuff I carry around with me. So far, I’ve been lucky.

  • Quincy-Street-Neighbor

    Try this life hack to keep your valuables hidden?

    Another idea: try wrapping your wallet/phone in what would appear to be a dirty diaper?

  • A few weeks back, the local Fox Morning Show had a list of summer must haves. One of them was an aquavault, which is basically a personal safe to attach to your pool chair to store your valuables. See https://theaquavault.com/

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