Dear PoPville – “Weird Vehicular Incident”, Ever Happen to Anyone Else?

by Prince Of Petworth June 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm 53 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

Weird thing happened to my wife yesterday, was wondering if any readers have experienced something similar: while in her car at a stop light in the Van Ness area of Connecticut Ave., a woman in the car behind got out of her car, came up to the driver’s side of my wife’s car, and took a picture of her, just a couple inches from the window. My wife was so stunned she didn’t think to take the license plate, and the woman turned off before she could react. Crazy person, or ulterior motive?”

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like identity theft

    • Anonymous

      Identity theft? How? While I agree that it’s odd, lots of people take pictures of strangers for non-nefarious purposes.

      • Anonymous

        This crazy lady now has her license plate AND photo. Think about it.

        • Not a fed.

          OK, I’ve thought about it and I still don’t understand how you can commit identity theft with a license plate number and a photograph. You’ll have to explain it to us.

          • Now try thinking about it with a tinfoil hat on.

          • Anonymous


  • anon

    Was it a Maryland photographer?

  • kd

    Was the woman wearing goggles and driving a white car? If so, she is a woman that I often see around Chevy Chase. I believe she is schizophrenic (I am entirely not a doctor though, just from my observations and my background in special education). She goes to the UPS store in Chevy Chase DC several times a week to mail letters to various governments . They haven’t had too many problems with her, but occasionally she will yell at other customers to put their phones away, because she believes that they are taking pictures of her and are going to steal her identity. In turn, she takes pictures of everyone. Not really sure what she does with them, but once I saw her driving down Connecticut with her phone out the window, videoing or taking pictures as she went.

    • Anonymous

      America’s spectacular mental health system at work.

    • Anonymous

      Yes! She was driving a white car, a 4-door honda civic (I’m the wife that this happened to) but I don’t think she was wearing goggles. She took the picture with a regular camera though, not a phone. It would make sense that perhaps she is mentally ill in some way because I was driving very considerately and didn’t do anything that would warrant someone being upset. It was extremely bizarre to say the least! Thank you for your response!

      • kd

        Yep that’s her!

      • Anonymous

        In some countries just being a woman driving could be considered offensive.

        • Anonymous

          I’ve had a few DC cab drivers express their offense that I was driving while female.

      • cohi89

        I was JUST going to comment and ask this. Same woman has done this to my boyfriend, except she got out, wrote down the license plate, and got back in and drove up. This was on 11th and U. Weird but reassuring because I kept wondering if we did something wrong/waiting for some sort of notice about it.

        • 13th & Otis

          Same thing happend to me at 13th and Otis St NW…woman wearing googles gets out of her car, wrote down my license plate #, and told me she was going to report me to the FBI.

    • Paul Tagliabue

      I saw this person with camera and goggles (almost like lab ones) on 16th street and Harvard once and was so confused as I drove past her (I couldnt tell the gender at the time) They looked pretty insane

    • Anonymous

      Yes the woman has followed me down Wisconsin avenue from tenleytown to Georgetown taking photos and screaming at me and got out of her car at a red light.

  • Anonymous

    This happened to my roommate as well! A woman pulled up in a car next to her at a red light and took her photo. My roommate then took one of her (I think she was also a bit weirded out) and the woman got very angry and got out of her car to yell.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds related to the guy I had the misfortune of driving in front of when I first moved to VA. I stopped at an almost-red light, which pissed him off (not like there’s any way he could have made it through though) so he got out of his car to march up to my window and start yelling. I had just moved here from NJ, and had never experienced a person with road rage, so I was terrified!

  • Anonymous

    Or perhaps the woman though your wife had somehow violated some sort of traffic law and wanted her picture for some sort of report? Still supremely creepy…

    • That will be the next POPville post.

      • +1
        “Do You Recognize This Crazy Driver I Got Her Photo”

        • anon2


          • bruno

            How did she manage to get a driver’s license I wonder?

  • Anon


  • Anonymous

    Sounds like your run-of-the-mill nutter. I wouldn’t stress over this.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve noticed drunks and shady looking people taking pictures of license plates lately. Wonder if it’s a trend.

    • Anon

      I had somebody steal my front license plate. Police found it about a month later in rural Delaware. Probably related to what you witnessed, maybe report that next time if you didn’t then.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe she thought you were a celebrity?

  • Anonymous

    Is this even legal? If nothing else it seems like someone abandoning a running car to run up to someone’s window in the middle of traffic is dangerous. And if this woman is mentally ill enough to be doing something like this, does she have the mental capacity to be driving safely in the first place?

    • Mike

      Leaving a running vehicle unattended is illegal in most places. I know because I got ticketed for it once.

  • Slappy J

    I admire your wife’s restraint for not opening the door on the woman and going utterly ballistic. Offhand, if this woman is a loon, how in the hell is she allowed to have a DL?

    • You’re working under the assumption that she actually has one.

      • Or she got it before her alleged psychotic break and just keeps on renewing it.

    • Anonymous

      Thinking about it – if she had a DL, and then was dx’ed schizophrenic, how would it get removed?

      I know someone who was recently involuntarily committed for paranoid schizophrenia. Held for about a week, then released because no longer a danger to self or others (though it’s clear to all who know this person that he/she is NOT well)

      The issue of loss of this person’s DL was never raised, as far as I know. Still driving around.

    • Anonymous

      Mental illness is not grounds for refusing someone a drivers license. Think about it. Where would you draw the line? Depression? Post partum depression? Post partum psychosis? Other kinds of psychosis? Being mentally ill doesn’t automatically mean you’re crazy. Just means you need to stay on top of your meds.

      • anonymous

        it depends on the state, but generally if you’re mentally ill to the point of it interfering with your operation of a motor vehicle, you’re supposed to disclose that to the DMV. Just like if you have seizures, very poor vision, etc.

        But paranoid schizophrenics many times don’t believe that they’re ill. They’re fine, it’s just the rest of the world that is doing stuff to them. So they’re not likely to report their condition to the DMV.

      • Anonymous

        They manage to draw a line for vision impairments and other things.

    • textdoc

      She would probably be able to pass the initial test as long as she didn’t get out of the car during the test. After that, it would just be a matter of renewing the license.

  • Anonymous

    The same thing happened to me yesterday on capitol hill — a woman was sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked by Union Pub, snapping photos of folks driving by. Very strange.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe she was taking selfies.

  • bruno

    I know of a woman who goes into the post office in Chevy Chase/DC and has paranoid outbursts of the sort mentioned above. It sounds like this woman. I have only heard about her from another friend who has witnessed her.

  • Anonymous

    This happened to me as well! It happened back in February. I, too, thought I was doing nothing wrong. I was completely freaked out. The woman got out of her car and took a photo of me with a small silver camera. The car was a white beat-up Honda Civic. After I got over my initial shock, I managed to take a picture of the woman’s car and plate…just in case. I am not sure what I was expecting to happen but thought it might be good information to have.

    I will say that the woman seemed rather upset that I had taken a picture of her. She was in front of me but then seemed to make it a point to slow way down and get behind me. She then proceeded to drive up Connecticut extremely slowly during rush hour.

  • WillS

    Yes, I’ve seen her. She didn’t get out of the car in our case, but my wife and I were driving near Children’s hospital and she was in front of or slightly ahead and next to us at a light. I could see she was taking photos of others around her. When the light turned green, she took off at 10 mph (limit is 25+? on Irving Street) swerving significantly, so we passed her, and, as readers of this thread would expect, she had her hands on a camera as we passed. It was a little creepy but mostly ridiculous. She was driving erratically (as I said, she had both her hands on her camera), taking pictures of everyone around her while driving. I kinda wanted to wait and watch her drive into a pole, but I was not that curious. She’s a nutcase. Not much more to say about her.

    • WillS

      I meant to say that was in late February or early March as well.

  • I”ve had it happen a few years back but was a middle-aged man who photographed me getting out of my car and then again walking down the sidewalk. I was a bit freaked out otherwise I was going to ask him what he was doing.

    Just spooky and disconcerting but nothing onerous (identity theft or robbery-wise) ever happened as far as I know.

  • Anon

    That happened to me in Tenley!! Near Wilson HS. I’m a woman, the individual was also a woman. Our windows are tinted so I’m pretty sure she didn’t get a good picture. It was about a year ago and nothing’s appeared to have happened with it. It was pretty off-putting for me too but I wouldn’t worry about it.

  • I know her

    I know who this woman is because she lives in my friend’s condo building. She does indeed live with mental illness, and her neighbors have had numerous issues with her and have discussed their concerns with the police and with DC social services. Essentially, nothing can be done unless she commits a crime.

  • AMSB

    This happened to me too- and it also occurred close to Wilson HS in Tenleytown. I was in a Car2Go and the woman got out of her car, approached my drivers side window- screaming and shouting loudly- and then proceeded to take pictures with a bulky silver camera. It scared the daylights out of me because it was so random, and I was so shaken I wasn’t able to notice anything about her car other than it was a white four-door sedan. I posted a message on the Tenleytown neighborhood listserve, but no one else replied with a similar experience.

    Also- I noticed her briefly before she jumped out of her car to approach me because she had on very big glasses (they must have been goggles) I thought they looked like lab eye protectors or something like that.

  • IncreasedParanoia

    Imagine if she were to ever see this post. It would only increase her paranoia tenfold. “Everyone on the internet is keeping track of me!”

  • Mike

    This is only my 2nd time ever commenting on popville, but I just have to:

    1. This comment thread has salvaged an otherwise horrific afternoon at work.
    2. My sisters and I grew up w/o cable, so we used to sit by the side of the road in a row of lawn chairs. One of us would hold an unplugged blow dryer and point it at the cars driving past, one would hold binoculars, and one would pretend to take notes about the drivers. Just to mess with people.

  • CPlife

    Dear all,

    This woman is known by many of us as she lives in Cleveland Park. She is suffering with a mental illness, doesn’t take the medication she needs, the police and mental health dept know about her as does everyone who has every had to cross her path. With our mental health and societal support systems not being what we would hope for, many of us have been living in a situation where she terrorizes us on a regular basis and the police can’t do anything about it unless more people start REPORTING THESE HARASSING OR STALKING INCIDENTS TO THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY WHEN THE SITUATION HAPPENS. The police have instructed us to do this every time she pounces in a constant fit of paranoia.

    Please — although many of us hesitate to call the police and write these sort of incidents off — we need everyone to file police reports so something eventually has to be done to help her and help all of us. The situation is pretty awful for those of us who have to live with this on a daily basis, so PLEASE CALL THE POLICE IF SHE DOES THIS TO YOU.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Anonymous

      I have gone to the police after she did this to me and the police told me that they would not file a report or do anything about it. Unless she touches you, damages your property or starts showing up at your house repeatedly they will not get involved.


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