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Props to Proactive Citizens – 12 Year Old Bike Thief Caught in Bloomingdale

by Prince Of Petworth June 13, 2011 at 11:00 am 66 Comments

From MPD 5D listserv:

Friday evening, around 5:00 p.m., I was on my second-story balcony and noticed a young black male walking through the alley. He ventured into the backyard of my neighbor on the 100 block of W St NW and walked up to their back porch and picked up a bike. Since he hadn’t had a bike with him when he arrived, I surmised the bike he was walking off with was not his. I yelled at him and told him to put the bike back, he looked up at me and smiled. I yelled at him again and he said, “F*** you”. He took off on the bike and I went after him. I caught him on the 1700 block of Flagler NW. When I caught up with him, he dropped the bike. I picked up the bike and also the bag he dropped.

Oddly enough, he didn’t run away even as we (me and the neighbors on Flagler who were sitting on their porches) told him we were calling the police. He called someone on his cell phone and told the person on the other end, “They have my bag”. He then started asking for his bag–even saying please. When I was on the phone with the police they told me to look into the bag and there was a nice pair of bolt cutters inside. Still, the kid did not run away despite no one restraining him. The police arrived and took him into custody. I received a call from the officer later today saying that he had been released to his parents. The reason for this message is to let everyone know that thefts are occurring even in broad daylight, the perpetrators are bold and brazen, and are pretty young. This kid told me he was 12! And, now he’s back out on the streets. Be vigilant and secure your property well!


Though not all residents of 5D agree with the action:

I remember the days when we would catch the little thieves and lecture them before walking them to thier homes to talk to thier parents. Today, 12 year olds go to jail for stealing bicycles? I live around here, too and have not witnessed any violent acts among these youth, yet. Maybe an occasional shouting match. Personally, for a 12yr old to steal a bike in broad day light is not “bold”, that’s “a kid who clearly isn’t a master career criminal but is on his way with a record now at 12yrs. Clearly he needs his own bike lol” (I’m sure the police showed up in 2 minutes flat!)
Who knew?

Though the MPD Commander Solberg offers his accolades:

I would like to salute the actions of Mr. Menard in yesterday’s bike theft case. Mr. Menard, while at home and on his back porch, saw a theft in progress–a young man stealing a bike from a neighbor’s backyard–and took immediate action.

He confronted the young man, and then when the kid rode away on the bike, Mr. Menard, shoeless, took off after him and with the help of some neighbors on Flagler Place, caught the young man and detained him until police arrived.

There’s community involvement, and then there’s running out of your house and chasing barefoot after a young thief on a bike. I am not encouraging all residents to adopt this approach should you witness a crime in progress.

However, the MPD would like to acknowledge the brave actions of Mr. Menard and give him a huge thank you for protecting his neighborhood and getting involved.

  • anon

    “Today, 12 year olds go to jail for stealing bicycles?”

    No, they get released to their parents, ready to steal again.

    • Another guy named Chris


    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      “I yelled at him and told him to put the bike back, he looked up at me and smiled. I yelled at him again and he said, “F*** you”.”

      Clearly the kid has been told, or has learned through previous incidences, that he won’t get in trouble if he’s caught.

      So what is the most constructive way of curbing this mindset? Is there an appropriate level of punishment that can be given – community service, curfew, fine to the parents, etc – which could show there are consequences to unlawful behavior for juveniles and those that are supposed to be responsible for them?

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Kudos to the man who got involved!

    As for the 5D resident, I’m not sure what city he lives in but 12-year olds in DC don’t go to jail for stealing bikes. They don’t even go to jail for murdering someone. Why do you think the kid stuck around even after the police had been called? He knew that he wasn’t going to suffer any penalty for what he did.

    I too remember when reporting bad behavior to parents was the way to handle misbehaving kids. Those days are long gone. The “parents” of many of these kids could care less what bad things they are doing. The person who took his bag is lucky the kid’s “parent” didn’t show up and attack him for having the nerve to stop the kid’s criminal act.

    • WDC

      Exactly. I love the Norman Rockwell vibe of hauling a young miscreant home to his mother, and being sure he would get sent to bed without dinner. But here and now, I’d get chewed out (at best) for disrespecting.

      • Eric

        exactly, a guy on my old street tried to do that after a kid tagged his house but a mob of family members were ready to kill him cause he “laid hands on” the kid. Only the intervention of a couple older ladies on the block defused the situation.

      • Angry Parakeet

        Happened to a guy in my old SW neighborhood, too, who collared a youth who assaulted another neighbor on a Sunday afternoon. The mob (really – at least 12) of angry relatives had the poor guy (who was a father of three young boys himself) apologizing profusely as the threats escalated.

        • Chris LeDroit

          If anyone needs evidence that civilization is in decline, they’ve got it right here.

          • Anonymous

            are you a drama queen in real life, or do you just play one on the innerwebs?

          • Chris LeDroit

            Maybe you should learn to deal with reality.

  • wdc

    Call his parents? Sorry, dude is running around with bolt cutters. This is not a random crime of opportunity by some kid who wants his own bike. Besides, you have no idea if his parents are the people he called to tell he got caught or what his or their history is like.

    • whoa_now

      Can cops find out who he called, as this might be a ring..and he called his superior?

      • Bloomingdalian

        The question is, do the cops care – since the laws are so lenient it might not make much sense to pursue. How do we change the juvie laws?? What board do we have to get on??

        • Anonymous

          I think you need to go to the City Council for that. Start by emailing your Council Member to say that you want to get tougher on juvenile crime. Then vote against anyone who won’t do that (and start by voting out Phil Mendelson).

          • Bloomingdalian

            I get what you’re saying but when you’re councilmember is Harry Thomas Jr……

  • andy

    Can cops find out where bolt cutters are being bought and see if there’s some trend?

    For example if they all have serial numbers indicating sale by the RI Ave Home Depot, maybe they could ask the RI Ave Home Depot not to sell bolt cutters to minors.

    If the kid has grandpa’s bolt cutters, not much you can do. But I would be curious as to where most bike thieves get their bike thievery materials.

    • CoHi

      Good call. I wonder what the Harvard MBA management team at the RI Ave Home Depot would say though.

    • stinkypesto

      If they are stealing bikes why are you assuming that they are buying the tools?

    • Veronika

      what is Home Depot supposed to do? Tell every black kid trying to buy bolt cutters that they are OBVIOUSLY theives and they won’t sell to them? Try try again.

      • lei

        The same thing other places do with spray paint- you have to show an ID sign for it no matter your age, race, whatever…. and be 18 to purchase them.

        Not that it matters as someone else suggested they probably just steal bolt cutters too……… but it doesn’t have to involve Home Depot profiling young, black kids either.

        • BB

          All bolt cutters should be banned!

          • Anonymous

            If you make bolt cutters illegal only criminals will have bolt cutters.

            Bolt cutters dont cut bolts, people do.

      • Jerry Parma

        Actually that’s probably not a bad idea.

  • ridiculous

    The simple disgusting fact that there is no formal punishment for these crimes is what perpetuates the DC youth crime culture.

    Why wasn’t this kid assigned to 40 hours of public trash duty, or graffitti cleaning? No, he was simply sent home, with his bolt cutters I would imagine.

    I am not that old, but it wasn’t long ago that that kid would have gotten a beating so severe by whomever caught him that he wouldn’t have been able sit down for a day. The he would have gotten home and gotten another from his parents.

    You dare spank a kid now and you end up in jail, and the kid ends up on a host of drugs to treat their “depression”.

    But this kid and the thousands like him in DC thieve with impunity because there is zero official or unofficial punishment.

    • mmm

      are you kidding? you don’t “get assigned” punishment. You get released and have a court date / face a judge.

  • J

    My bike was stolen off of a friend’s porch on Flagler last year when we were right inside the screen door. I was stupid for not locking it up, but I was there dropping something off for 10 minutes. I was about to walk home dejected when my friend told me to get into his car. We drove around for 15 minutes and found the punk with some of his friends playing basketball. I got out of the car and started yelling at the kid to get the f*ck off my bike. He dropped it and his friends all started giving him the business, but no one cared enough to get out of there. I picked it up and biked home. Anyway, I guess I should have called the cops, but didn’t. I think he and his friends have been doing this in that area for a while now…

  • The Heights

    The dissenting 5D resident clearly is part of the problem here. The idea all the kids in the neighborhood are saints is unbeleivable. If theft, of bikes or anything else, is met with “kids will be kids,” then nothing will ever change. Maybe when that resident’s house is burglarized or his/her car is stolen, then he/she will wake up to the reality that larceny/burglary/robbery are crimes and not small indiscretions. The “not my little angel grandson” mentality has to stop or youth violence will continue to get worse in the city.

    • anon


    • Anonymous


    • Bloomingdalian

      I think it requires a different level of maturity for a parent of a child who commits these crimes to: a) hold the child appropriately resposible, b) believe the accuser is fair/just c) not take it as a personal attack when they are given the news.

      Reminds me of my neighbor who did this and now ended up with a son she is SCARED of who deals drugs out of their house. Nice life.

    • Native American JD

      +1000. The kid deserved to have his ass smacked with the boltcutters. As is, he’s out back stealing bikes right now.

      Lesson learned: beat some sense into the criminal kids.

  • sprky4

    Everyone with a bike in dc should get two u-locks. One to lock your bike with and the second to whack thieves in the back of the head with.

    • Dave C.


  • Anonymous

    It seems like a lot of the arguments about how to handle juvenile offenders are between one group that wants them sent to jail for a long time and another group that wants them released with no punishment at all. Perhaps something in between would make more sense…

    • whoa_now

      nah, shoot them.

    • Marcus Aurelius

      I don’t think a kid who steals a bike necessarily needs to be thrown in jail. But I think some negative consequence needs to attach to the action and it should be sufficient to discourage the kid from doing it again. Right now, even juveniles that commit serious assaultive crimes don’t receive serious penalties.
      The 5D commenter in the original thread is the exception, not the rule. To the extent that there ever was a significant contingent that believed these kids should be released with no punshment, their numbers are dwindling. Years and years of a lack of significant punishment and a corresponding increase in criminal behavior have pushed more and more people into the “lock them up and throw away the key” category. And that is unfortunate.

    • Anonymous

      i’d say 95% of us fall somewhere in between “jail time” and “no punishment”.

    • Anonymous

      The reason I am for harsh punishment for this kid is that so few bike thieves actually get caught. If the law throws the book at the few who do get caught, then at least you have some chance of deterring other would-be thieves. If, on the other hand, 90% of the times bike thieves are caught and prosecuted, they get a “boys will be boys” warning and sent home to their parents, then the math looks a little like this (assuming unrealistically that even 5% of bike thieves are prosecuted):

      .05 (chance of being caught and prosecuted) x .1 (chance of real punishment) x [whatever the likely punishment is].

      Unless that punishment is severe, it’s highly unlikely that the low odds of actually receiving that punishment ever will make a kid think twice about stealing in the first place.

      True story for these 5D wusses defending this punk: cops in MoCo caught a guy stealing my bike, recovered the bike unharmed and found bolt cutters on the kid, and then waited around until I showed up hours later to the place where he’d stolen the bike. I gave them a statement ID’ing the bike as mine. When I showed up to testify on the day of his trial (just to ID the bike as mine), the kid had been in jail the entire 30+ days since being booked. If more kids actually thought they would get thrown in the clink for up to a month, at least some of them might self-regulate a little better.

      • Anonymous

        i have a hard time believing that was the full story. so a 12 year old was locked up for a month for stealing a bike? not for other reasons also? just not buying it.

        • Tres

          He said “guy” not kid.

          To his post +1000

        • Anonymous

          Yeah — the guy wasn’t 12. He was a “kid” to me, and I mix up the generic terms I use for young punks throughout my post to the detriment of the story. I’d guess he was 18-20. To concede the obvious point: it is apples-to-oranges with my story and a juvenile, but it was not lost on me that this was what law enforcement could be.

          I was shocked when he showed up at his court date in shackles. I guess he couldn’t post bond to get out, so he just stayed in jail. Sentenced to time served, which was north of 30 days. Actually pretty ridiculous, but it dawned on me that the fear of something like that happening to me probably played no small part in me never stealing crap when I was his age or younger, and most kids in DC probably — such as the one in this post — don’t have that same incentive calculus.

  • LisaT

    Metro specific, but this might be of interest.

    From the 4D MPD listserv:











    Sponsored By: Commissioner India A. Henderson, 5B10

    Former Commissioner Kathy Henderson, 5B10

    (202) 556-5823


    • Anonymous

      ohhhh boy. The Hendersons.

      • Anonymous

        they’re crazy, but at least they fight crime.

        • anon

          What have they actually accomplished? Just more of the same talk. They’re great at posturing, but not sure what’s actually been accomplished.

          • Anonymous

            she’s worked with police to have drug dealers arrested. she advocated for orange hat patrols and got more police presence when she was anc rep.

  • Anonymous

    we need to hold parents or guardians legally responsible for the actions of all children under 16. over 16 should be treated like an adult.

    is this possible?

  • “You afraid to go to baby booking? The f&%$ is wrong with you, boy?”

    • Another guy named Chris


      “You want it to be one way, but it’s the other way”

      I am of firm belief that the majority of life can be surmised by quotes from the wire.

  • WDC

    Community service. If you don’t perform, you (and/or your parents) get fined. If they don’t pay, they have their wages (if any) garnished, and if they are without income, they start to lose public assistance.

    You think that a parent facing the loss of foodstamps will let the kid get away with slacking on his trash pickup hours, or re-offending?

    • PG

      Also, how about any offender under sixteen can not get a driver’s license until he’s 18? Second offense, 20.

      • Anonymous

        Do you think that would be a deterrent at all? With the exception of some lacrosse-playing-idiots from upper Northwest, the problem kids aren’t kids who are getting cars when they turn 16. They’re kids who drive a car at age 16 only if they steal it — and if you’re going to steal a car, not having a driver’s license isn’t going to stop you.

        • PG

          I don’t know if it would be a deterrent, but if I was a lawmaker I would give it a try.

      • Denizen of Tenallytown

        Eh, that’s probably not going to deter young criminals. They’ll just drive without a license using whoever’s car is convenient at the time.

        Also, jumping over the minor/adult line (from 16 to 18 to 20) with restrictions is probably a difficult issue to tackle in terms of the legal technicalities, I would guess.

    • anon

      That only works if the kids/parents care about money. You can’t get blood from a turnip, and I doubt people who are jobless/living off the gubment care about a fine that really can’t be garnished from their non-existent wages.

      • WDC

        Go ahead and read the post to which you’re responding all the way through to the end. We’ll wait.

      • Another guy named Chris

        Or if they don’t do the service, they do jail time.

        Instead of paying the street sweepers, we could just pay people to supervise these idiots to clean the streets. In the afternoon when all their homies will see them.

    • Anonymous

      i agree. community service. and parental culpability.

      what are the chance it could happen?

  • Tres

    Honestly, for something like this, I’d like to see a *mandatory* weekend in some kind of semi secure detention facility. Parents drop him off Friday, pick him up Sunday evening. For assault by a minor, I’d say 4 weekends (so it doesn’t interfere with school). Escape attempts would double the sentence or result in real jail time.

    If you don’t act to deter crime, it has the effect of growing it. Mendelson and others like him are gardeners of muggings, assaults, thefts, etc.

  • Anon

    Can we please cane little thugs, I mean, misunderstood youths?

  • That is right down the road from me. I go to Windows weekly. But it is great that this kid was caught, too many thieves get away too frequently

  • FlatEarth

    My bike was recently stolen (last week) out of my backyard in Columbia Heights/Petworth. Cut right through my U-lock and cable lock with really serious bolt-cutters in the middle of the day. I wonder if this kid was in my neighborhood.

    Things I learned: Don’t lock your bike anywhere anyone can ever see it ( only inside your house).

  • JL

    If I catch someone doing this I am calling the cops plain and simple, I don’t care how old they are. My friend already had his bike stolen last month while he was inside the house in the middle of the day. I would definitely press charges.

  • stinkbot13

    This asshat is probably the same kid that stole my locked-up bike from my fenced-in backyard last year.

    My husband saw some punk riding around on it two days later and tried to chase him down with our dog, but kid ducked into the sketch complex on FL & 1st. Not worth it to go trolling around in there for a bike.

    But seriously, two days after you steal a bike, you’re riding it around in the same ‘hood? Sheesh.

  • calvin broadus

    The author of this posting has some serious stones — little yo could have had a gun. Rule of law and respect for the law are foreign concepts to so many of the District’s trashy residents.

  • no one of consequence

    to all the folks defending the juvie criminal elements of dc: choices and actions have consequences…if they aren’t learning that from parents, teachers, etc. then they WILL learn it the hard way either by crossing the wrong person or the law (which, btw, is apparently lacking in ability to really do anything about the said juvie offenders according to what i’ve been reading on POP).

    the fact that a mob of relatives would rush to the defense of the criminal (and threaten the victim of the crime with violence), is quite telling.


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