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Dear PoPville – Did We Do the Right Thing by Calling the Cops?

by Prince Of Petworth July 19, 2012 at 10:30 am 78 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user jennverr

Dear PoPville,

I wanted to get your readers’ thoughts on how they would handle the run-in I had last night with potential bike thieves.

I was walking home from the Metro around 11:30pm last night after the Nats game. My boyfriend and I were walking up 14th St. on the West side of the street toward our apartment when we saw — actually, first we heard it — a man hammering (with an actual hammer, loudly) the u-lock of a bike locked in front of Pan Lourdes, across the street from us. He wasn’t alone — another man was alternately helping him and, it seemed, keeping a look out. There were others around us, and while everyone turned their heads at the sound and looked perplexed as to why someone would be hammering a bike lock open, no one did anything.

After my boyfriend tried to draw attention to the men, thinking they would stop what they were doing or at least explain that it was their bike they were taking, with no success, I did the only thing I could think of that was safe — called 911. As I was on the phone describing the men and what they were doing to the operator, they looked over at me and seemed to get what I was doing — but still didn’t say anything, they just stared at us.

We walked down the street a block, and sure enough a policeman pulled up beside them (shout out to the MPD for their quick reaction time!). We were too far away to see what happened after that, but we didn’t see anyone fleeing and there seemed to be no violence or shouting.

I’m curious about whether people think our reaction — calling the emergency line, in plain sight of the possible perps, on a couple of guys who may have just been retrieving their bike to which they lost the key — was appropriate or not. In the moment and in retrospect, our justifications were: 1) it was suspicious that this was happening at 11:30pm, 2) they unconcealed way they were doing it seemed to be a coverup, 3) no one else was doing a thing, which seemed irresponsible to us, and 4) I had a bike stolen from that same location 2 years ago and I wanted to do everything in my power to stop that from happening to another person, even if it meant calling the cops on innocent men.

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