Robbery Reported on Front Doorstep in Brookland at 6pm Last Night

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via google maps

From the Brookland Listserve:

“Yesterday evening around 6 pm, I arrived home, parked, got things out of my car, walked up to my front door, and put the key in and unlocked it. It was dark and rainy and our porch light wasn’t on because we hadn’t been home all day. Just as I went to turn the handle, I felt a tugging on my shoulder where I was carrying my purse and a larger tote back. I didn’t understand what was happening but grabbed onto them very tight. At some point, I realized there was a young man pulling on them. As he pulled, he dragged me back toward the steps, where I slid down on my back. I finally couldn’t hold on any more and he got the two bags and ran across the neighbor’s yard to a car that was waiting for him on 16th Street between Newton and Otis. I couldn’t get to it fast enough to see anything about it.

The police responded within minutes of my phone call and were great. Lots of police, seemed very thorough, were very respectful. And I’m fine – just a sprained finger on the hand with which I was holding onto the bags.

Be careful – it would never have occurred to me to worry about someone grabbing my purse as I stood at my front door at 6 pm. I’m going to start paying attention to any car sitting with people in it apparently doing nothing that I don’t recognize, get license plates numbers and makes, and call the police.”

15 Comment

  • Ally

    So glad you’re mostly okay and that it wasn’t worse. And thank you for posting this! I typically have my keys in my hands till I get to my block, at which point I feel irrationally safe. Going to hold onto them a bit longer now.

  • HaileUnlikely

    I’m very sorry that this happened to you.
    .
    I would recommend you (and everybody else in the city) hook up your porch light to a timer, so neither you nor anybody else ever has to come home to a dark porch (or worse, basement stairwell) again. I have the one in the link below and recommend it highly. It us extremely easy to use, has an option to automatically shift on/off times based on sunrise/sunset times at your location, and can also be used just like any old on/off switch if you want to use it that way. If you know how to replace a light switch or an outlet, you can install it yourself. (If you can’t or don’t want to, an electrician or a regular handyman could do it in about 10 minutes unless they discover other problems with your electrical system)

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004AP92N2?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00

    • I installed a very similar one in my last house and it was great. Light was always on 30 minutes before sunset and stayed on until midnight. Adjusted automatically (I think) for DST shift.

    • or get an LED bulb and just leave it on all the time for less money than the cost of installing this. and install a camera looking at your doorstep and recording all motion.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Fair enough. At the going rate for electricity (about 10 cents per kWh), assuming a 100W equivalent LED (I like a bright-ass light on my porch, 100W equivalent uses 13W), you’d be even in about 3 years if you install the thing yourself. If you have to hire a pro to install it, then yeah, it would probably take several decades to make up the cost of the install in terms of energy savings and bulb replacement. My wife would kill me if I left a light on 24 hours a day, no matter how inexpensive or energy-efficient it was, so I still win with this.
        .
        Anyway, take home point is, you don’t have to come home to a dark porch or stairwell – light that sh!t up.

      • Agreed. I have a LED bulb that I leave on all day long. It’s the only one that we leave on and it keeps the porch bright, day & night. I’m terribly sorry that this happened to you. I can’t imagine how scared you must have been in that moment.
        I would also say, if you are feeling vulnerable, to also consider a porch video camera (aka Dropcam, etc). This might help give you some level of peace of mind and there is a rebate for the with the DC government.

    • I also have that exact switch and it’s just fantastic. In addition to the sunrise/sunset feature, it has a vacation setting that will turn your light on and off at random times (within certain parameters) while you’re away so anyone taking notes won’t see a pattern.

  • That’s really scary but I’m glad you’re okay. This is a good reminder for all to stay vigilant even when close to the safety of home.

  • I always have my keys ready before I walk through my front gate, have always felt particularly vulnerable right at the front door, in a less visible area, with my back to the street. Glas my spidey sense isn’t completely unfounded.

  • If you turn your porch light off when you’re not at home, then you’re providing a fine “nobody’s home” signal to burglars. Get an LED or CFL bulb, leave it on 24/7. The cost is a few pennies a day, and the benefit can be beyond value. I argue also that a well-lit front porch provides a place of refuge for anyone feeling unsafe or threatened on the street; get out of the dark, get to the light, even if you don’t know whose house it is.

    • I’ve also heard (maybe from the MPD-sponsored crime prevention/neighborhood watch training — I can’t remember) that leaving exterior lights on during the day makes it look as though no one is home.
      .
      Better to install a dusk-to-dawn fixture (or adapter) that turns the porch light on when it’s dark, independently of whether anyone is at home. Or a timer.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Agreed. I have never heard it from the police, but when I see a porch light on in the middle of the day, I assume that nobody is home. Short of leaving porch lights on all day becoming a widespread norm (can’t infer anything from the light being on at noon because everybody always leaves them on), I wouldn’t count on it having the desired effect for the one or two people on a block who do it.

  • My aunt and cousin were robbed at 7 pm on Otis, as they were getting in their car, right in front of the door. I’m totally convinced it was the same guys. He threatened to kill them.

  • I swapped out my regular porch light with a motion sensor light – it goes to “dim” for a while around dusk, then lights up when you step onto the porch (it goes dark eventually, but then turns back on when it senses motion). The unit was $75, and uses a regular bulb — almost 4 years and I’ve yet to have to change the lightbulb. I installed it myself because I’m handy like that, but it took less than hour so it wouldn’t be a huge cost to have an electrician do it. . (The cops showed up at my door one night, around 3 or so, looking for my neighbor, and I couldn’t figure out the switch to turn on the light (because it’s on a panel with 4 switches), so we just shouted at each other through the door for a while, until they saw my neighbor walking up and abandoned the porch to give chase.)

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