“Be vigilant of locking your doors and setting your alarms!”

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I went to bed Tuesday night with my dog upstairs with me and all doors locked [12th and T St, NW]. By the time I woke up Wednesday morning someone had forced open the back doors, ran through the house grabbing what they could, and left out the front door. Neither my dog nor I woke up. They stole a bike, laptop, Ipad, Ipod, purses, and dug through drawings I assume in search of cash. The purses they dug through and tossed in the alley and along 12th Street taking cash, sunglasses, and strangely headphones (who wants someone else’s headphone, ew). Be vigilant of locking your doors and setting your alarms!

51 Comment

  • Terrible. OP, do you have deadbolts?

  • So sorry this happened to you! I hope the police find whoever did this soon!

  • That is so terrifying.

  • Steel security doors without thumb latches (yeah, I know, fire code, etc.). An alarm only works *after* somebody had secured entry to your house by kicking in a door or busting a window. With the average 911 response to alarm calls they know that they still have several minutes to make off with your stuff. I don’t get people who live in 90% of this city and feel like they are “in jail” with security doors and/or windows. That’s better than having a stranger in your house while you are asleep, right? These days they don’t have to be ugly, either, I’ve seen many that complement the overall design of the house or are downright artistic on their own. I feel much better knowing that somebody would need several minutes and some very loud power tools to break into my place. More peace of mind than any alarm system has ever given. Of course having both doesn’t hurt.

    • Good luck being trapped in your house in a fire.

      • Like I said, fire code, etc., your choice. And as noted below they are ways to make them more secure, but not everybody knows that. We keep a dedicated key for just that reason.

      • This might be a concern if your house doesn’t have, you know, windows.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Or you can get one that is designed in such a way that you can have a thumbturn inside that is inaccessible from the outside.

      • HaileUnlikely

        p.s. If you have a security door that is designed in a way that would make a thumbturn inside reachable from the outside, you can remedy that with a large can (e.g., 32-oz soup can) and a hole saw – just find a can that is the right depth to reach within about half an inch of the interior door when the interior door is closed, and secure it between the deadbolt and the door. Still need to lock the interior door, though, as you can defeat this by opening the interior door and reaching through and around. You’ll want to finish the exposed end in a way that makes it dull – you don’t want to be reaching through the sharp end to access the thumbturn.

        • I’m confused. You stick an old soup can into a hole you drilled into your door, and this makes things more secure?

    • I have always thought that good flood security lights, that stay on dimly after dark and brighten when there is motion, do more than higher security locks, bars, or alarms. I removed all bars around my place (Capitol Hill) and have had no problem except a stolen bike in the alley. Someone trying to sneak around would feel uncomfortable at my house. I’m not an expert in this but I have heard others say that visual deterence is the most effective prevention.

      • But lights can be broken. I like the black iron security gates, which can be made to look good, with an iron box on the inside around the thumb latch that is part of the door and welded to it, which can’t be reached at all from the outside. Better safe than sorry.

    • Gates and bars are a must in my neighborhood. You will get broken into without them.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        I live in your neighborhood with no bars or security doors and I have never been burglarized.

        • We have neighbors who have been repeatedly. And we’ve had people test our bars when we weren’t there (neighbors scared them off and called us). Not sure if it’s because we’re right at Florida/RI and get a lot of traffic or what. Anyway, I’m happy with ours.

    • You’re much more likely to die in a house fire than a home invasion.

      If safety is your No. 1 concern, make sure you have smoke detectors on every level, in every bedroom and in every major room. They only last up to 10 years, so they must be replaced every decade. Also, get ones that both tie into your electrical system and can use lithium batteries as a backup (these will last years, as opposed to standard batteries that need to be replaced twice a year). Networked ones that talk to each other are a big must. Sprinklers are another huge safety feature that everyone should try to have.

      It’s fine to also take home security seriously, but you don’t want to do anything to compromise your ability to get out of your house during a fire.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Be careful generalizing national stats all the way down to the neighborhood level. Not saying you’re wrong (I’m honestly not sure) and you do have many valid points about fire safety, but regarding global vs local stats: a person in the United States is about twice as likely to die in a car accident vs be murdered. In DC, on average, a person is more than 5 times as likely to be murdered vs die in a car accident.

        • Yes, your risk varies by where you live, but I have never seen data that points to home invasions being a big driver of deaths or violent assaults in DC. Popville reports on murders all the time, and they almost always don’t involve a home invasion as described here. They’re also not a big cause of murder in general in the U.S.

          While it is hard to get exact stats on this, since home invasions is not a crime stat category, there are very few deaths during home burglaries. Home invasion deaths may be somewhere around 100 or a few hundred a year. Fire deaths are between 2,500-3,000 a year.

          A lot of the housing stock in DC is also older, may have bad electrical wiring and may not have the latest fire codes applied to it like newer construction.

          I’m not telling people to not take home security seriously, but many of the people who harp the most on it don’t take fire safety seriously. It’s the same with people who think getting a gun will make their home safer, when all of the data points to guns making homes less safe due to the risk of accidental shootings and suicide.

          People get so wrapped up in fear that they let it warp their minds of all reason.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I could be wrong, as I’ve never seen DC-specific stats for home fires. I have had people try unsuccessfully to break into my home, though. I take both seriously, though (home security and fire safety), hence the DIY anti-reach-in-and-unlock-the-thumbturn-lock on my steel security door.

          • Yes, you are more likely to DIE in a fire. But someone breaking into your home can cause injury, sexual assault, loss of property, and the loss of a sense of ever feeling safe in a home.
            That said, I tend to agree with you, sort of, in that I’ve never seen a situation where spending enough on the security gates won’t make them both burglar safe AND fire safe. People who put in ones that make it hard to get out in a fire just don’t spend enough for the right gates because they don’t care to.

        • Only if one is black. If one is white, a car accident is more likely to do you in. This is the truth, most violent crime victims are black in this city, in fact this year is unusual because we have had six white victims of homicide, out of the 82 who have been killed. Last year it was zero. I am not joking, the racial divide on this is pretty significant. People may want to dance around the subject, but urban whites are not homicide victims very often.

  • These thugs need to be dealt with. I’ve actually had someone break into my old apartment like this and awoke to them standing in the doorway of my bedroom. F**king terrifying. Chased them out of the house without issue fortunately.

    Now have a dog. Fortunately the dog is a very light sleeper and barks at everything. This helps a lot. There is definitely a crime wave going on this year. The courts need to stop slapping the wrists of these thugs and lock them up for a long time.

    • The administration and courts are sympathetic to these thugs… after all its not their fault that they have no other choice but to break into peoples’ homes, rob, murder and steal… this is the Obama hope we have all been waiting for…

      • justinbc

        You’re so right. This type of thing never happened before 2009!

        • Look at crime statistics in NYC under De Blasio compared to Giuliani and Bloomberg and tell me you don’t see a correlation. Don’t be naive.

          • So Obama is the mayor of DC now?

            Oh wait this was a party jab. There are lots of other factors you could dig at here, but along the same lines as your thinking.. i’d chalk it up to it being summer time and folks of lower age brackets and economic status having a bit more free time to make bad decisions.

          • justinbc

            You want me to compare the statistics for all types of crime for a different city than the one we’re discussing, in order to prove a point that the POTUS encourages people to break into homes in DC? And you don’t think that’s just a wee bit misguided?

  • justinbc

    Fido won’t be getting any treats this week.

  • This JUST happened to my neighbor (A St SE btwn 14 and 15. It was this past Monday, broad daylight. Someone kicked in the back door from the alley/backyard and ran out the front. I don’t know what was taken the the MO is similar.

  • Awful. OP, do you have a gate at the back alley or an overhead door?

  • nightborn

    This crime wave is nuts. I got a text notification last night about a robbery at 14th & T… wonder if it’s the same crew.

  • ecklikewhoa – please explain to me how the summer explains the two guys that went on a mugging and armed robbery spree a couple nights ago? They didn’t look like students at Wilson HS… under your rationale their summer activity is robbing people then they head back to school in the fall right?

    Why do you think the editor of Popville moved from Petworth? You’re going to see contributors to the city’s coffers who pay taxes start to leave the City if they don’t feel safe then Courtland Milloy can have his dystopian 14th street back that he remembers so fondly.

    • @BK2H, is it my imagination or do you only post about a single issue on PoPville, namely your theory that rising crime rate in DC is about to trigger some kind of mass reversal of urban renewal in DC? I haven’t seen you do much, if anything to back up this theory and frankly is sounds like fearmongering with little evidence to support it. You also seem to ignore the fact that crime isn’t only up in historically “bad” parts of DC, but seems to be affecting the whole city. And other US cities.
      Perhaps you consider yourself to be a sort of Cassandra, but I want to see a lot more evidence before I’ll take this theory at all seriously. And you might want to re-read anything you’ve read about Dan leaving Petworth. He’s said nothing about leaving because of crime.

      • * IT sounds like fearmongering. My typo gave me a good opportunity to say it twice.

        • My point is that this rise in crime is in response to rapid gentrification which must seem like some bizarro world to DC natives that were here in the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s. At least you agree that crime is rising, that’s a start. My point is that when you have a government that is soft on criminals (coupled with a record number of police offers retiring) this is what you get and once crime starts those “educated” gentrifiers who want to start a family will think twice about living in a city where they don’t feel safe. Its really common sense.

          • The numbers on crime are fairly clear. The rest seems like highly subjective and slippery assumptions about human behavior and demographics that to me bear little resemblance to the reality I see and know.
            For one, I think educated people in cities are a heartier lot than you might think. And the possible alternatives — “reverse gentrification” to the suburbs?? — are unthinkable for most of the people you’re describing. I think a far more likely scenario is that people will demand stricter rules and better enforcement. And that people will find ways to manage in the meantime with better locks and surveillance systems, etc.

          • Then let’s price out the criminal element even more. Let’s make this city completely unaffordable. “Affordable” low income housing is usually where these folks live. So lets tear down all of it, and make DC 100% market rate. Let’s tear down all of the public housing. Let’s end section 8. All of these programs are part of the problem in terms of DC crime. Gentrification is not the problem to violent crime, it is the CURE. It is not the affluent or middle class who are violent criminals in this city.

      • Pretty remarkable he can write such drivel and nonsense in an attempt to rewrite history and it actually gets published!

  • justinbc- I want you to open your eyes and realize that when you have way lefty governments this is what happens… look back at NYC when I grew there in the 80s and 90s under Koch and Dinkins and compare all categories of crime with the 20 year period Giuliani and Bloomberg were Mayor… crime is back up in DC under De Blasio. Here in DC we had it really good under Mayor Williams and Fenty who were pro growth following the debacle that was Marion Barry… it doesn’t really impact me because I have the ability to pick up and leave but for those that aren’t as fortunate they will be the ones suffering as we head back into another lawless period…

    • Accountering

      Just an FYI, when you say things like “way lefty governments,” educated people tend to ignore the drivel you are about to spew.

      • Is your point that educated people must be liberals? If so I know enough about you to understand that just because you went to college (or probably law school) doesn’t mean you are educated.

  • Very scary. This seems to be happening a lot to row homes / free standing homes – is this type of break-in happening with the same frequency to condo/apartment units? Would be curious to know if one is a more desired target over the other.

  • Maybe it is because I lived in NYC too long, where even in the 1800s, row houses were built with sturdy iron bars (nicely decorative ones, but they weren’t there for the decoration) on the windows on the lower level. I’d never live in a house in a city without security gates, I don’t care what neighborhood. It just doesn’t make sense to. Anymore than I’d have packages delivered to my door and expect them to be there when I got from from work – never did that, either.

  • This supports my singular issue with what is going on in the city right now: http://www.popville.com/2015/07/yes-this-has-been-a-very-bad-summer/#comments

    I love this city and have been here since 2002 and I have only known cities my entire life (NYC and DC) but for the first time ever I am considering relocating to something more suburban in a jurisdiction that doesn’t have the same issues (i.e. Arlington County)

    • I wouldn’t move, it’s not getting that bad yet. Likewise my neighborhood has not really seen this spike. But this may be the benefit of living further from downtown. Also the spike may very well be temporary, and some of the measures may actually be starting to work. I think the cops have been given the green light to crack down hard, and have been doing so in the last couple of weeks.

  • Your dog might be defective.

    (Also this is terrifying)

  • Well no surprise there my friend. You live in a DOPE STRIP!!!!!!

  • The door to my home on 10th and O St. NW was found completely busted and it looked like someone tried to break in. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. Then a week later someone broke into my neighbor’s property and broke into the car in her garage. She’s a dog sitter and always has dogs around so it was a ballsy move. Now that I’m reading all these reports in the neighborhood I’m realizing there is a serious security problem.

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