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“Citizens Take Action and Nab Car Thief” Sparks Interesting Debate

by Prince Of Petworth March 26, 2012 at 11:00 am 22 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Collin David Anderson

Over the weekend MPD sent out a note on the 4D listserv:

Last night at around 7:40pm in the 5200 block of 4th Street Northeast one of our neighbors was in his home when he noticed two suspicious males lurking around his vehicle. He noticed that one of the males appeared to be a lookout as the other male approached his car and began to use some kind of tool to manipulate the lock on his vehicle. The neighbor quickly grabbed his smart phone and started to record the activities of the suspects. As he continued to record the activity the suspect was able to gain entry into his vehicle, the second subject then handed the first suspect a brick and the first suspect began to try and use the tool and brick to dismantle the ignition to the vehicle in an attempt to steal his car. Our neighbor decided to take action and not stand by and watch, he handed his cell phone off to a family member to continue recording and asked them to call 911. As the neighbor ran outside to confront the suspects he enlisted the help of a neighbor. One suspect took off running while the two neighbors confronted the second suspect who was still in the vehicle. The neighbors attempted to detain the suspect however the suspect began to fight them. As the struggled to detain the suspect the commotion got the attention of at three more neighbors who quickly came to assist, including a retired police officer who was armed with a set of handcuffs. The five neighbors were able to restrain the suspect until on duty police officers arrived on the scene and placed the suspect under arrest.

The suspect who was a juvenile was placed under arrest and charged with a host of offenses to include Destruction of Property, Attempt Theft in the First Degree, and Assault. Other than a few scrapes and bruises no one was seriously hurt during this incident.

Our thanks go out to the neighbors who stood up to make a difference in their neighborhood as they showed they will not tolerate this behavior in their neighborhoods anymore. Thank you to all that stood up and took action.

One citizen responded:

“Instead of recording the action as it was unfolding, the citizen should have been dialing 911. And after anger consumed him, instead of soliciting his neighbors for a situation that could have escalated into a deadly confrontation, alternatively, if he just had to act, he could have made some type of loud noise (after dialing 911) that might have scared the suspects off.

He did not know if the suspects were packing heat. The victim put himself and his neighbors in potential harms way over something replaceable – his vehicle.”

MPD leadership quickly tried to clarify:

“Never has MPD condoned or advised victims of a crime or witnesses to a crime
to confront or challenge those engaged in such criminal behavior. Our message has always been consistent, constant and clear, that if you see a crime in progress or someone that is acting suspiciously, call 911. Dispatchers will alert police in the Fourth District and help will be on the way.

Alfred Durham
Asst Chief
MPD”

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