Topic: Theft in Progress, No DCPD Response
Theft in Progress, No DCPD Response
I would like to share my recent encounter (or lack thereof) with the DCPD to see if others have experienced the same lack of response to a crime in progress.
On Friday, after having lunch with a friend in Dupont Circle, I decided to finish the workday at the Starbucks in said Circle. Upon entering the store, I spotted a single vacant table and immediately placed my backpack on the chair to reserve it while I ordered my drink. When I returned less than five minutes later my backpack was gone. I asked the adjacent table if they had seen who took the bag and they were able to tell me on which street the thief had fled. I followed their limited directions and was about to concede when I spotted a man wearing my distinctive backpack walking down New Hampshire Avenue. I didn’t approach the man – not so much out of fear – but because I didn’t want him to run and disappear with my property. I instead called 911 and thus, my disappointment began.
The dispatcher, though polite, sounded surprised when I told her that I was in hot pursuit. As I followed at an inconspicuous distance, I updated the her on the thief’s location every few seconds; she assured me that a unit was on the way. About 10 minutes into the call we reached 14th and P, where the man entered the bus bay heading South. There were no police anywhere in sight. The bus came, the man boarded, and against the dispatcher’s advice I followed him onto the bus. She told me that the call had been transferred to Metro PD and they would stop the bus and apprehend him.
Five minutes later we arrived at K St where the man disembarked and walked to another bus bay heading East. At some point during the 10 minutes we were stopped at this location the dispatcher told me that an officer was on the scene. The officer never arrived. The thief boarded a Circulator bus but this time I did not follow; I hailed a nearby taxi and asked it to follow the bus.
While in the taxi, the dispatcher told me that she was transferring me to her supervisor. I asked the supervisor to tell me the location of the dispatched unit, which she could not. She explained that because I had crossed district lines she had to transfer the call to another unit. She further explained that it was difficult for officers to locate me because I was moving. She advised that I flag down any officer that I happened across during my pursuit across the city.
About 7 minutes later the man exited the bus and I exited the taxi at 5th and Mass. I followed him for about 5 minutes to an apartment building at New Jersey Avenue, where he disappeared inside. If you’ve been counting, I had been on the call with 911 for approximately 37 minutes. The supervisor offered an officer to come to the scene and take a report. Thus ended the call. The officer never came.
Is it DCPD policy to ignore thefts, even when they’re in progress? Or is DCPD simply incompetent? The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is a ploy to build demand for police services. At the very least, I’ve learned that no one will speak up when they witness your property being stolen at a coffee shop. How sad.
Happy ending: I ended up getting my bag back because the thief saw me in front of the building, got scared, and sent his mother to return the bag to me.