Props to Alert Neighbors but Heads Up if You Live in/near Kingman Park

by Prince Of Petworth June 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm 58 Comments

Alleged burglars in alley behind Bennett place, ne

“Dear PoPville,

I was hoping you could share some information for the folks who live in the Carver Terrace and Kingman Park area. Several neighbors on Bennett Place have had their homes broken into in the past few weeks. There are 6 reported break-ins and attempted break-ins. The police have been notified, but up until this point have not been very helpful.

This past week, a friend received a call from his neighbor asking him to check on his house because the alarm was going off. My friend found the back door open and called the cops. Before the police arrived, my friend saw 2 burglars inside the house. He and another neighbor chased the guys out of the home. Unfortunately both intruders managed to escape: one of the burglars ran into a building nearby and had some of his buddies came out to block the neighbors giving chase.

Luckily, the folks on Bennett were able to get some photographs that they passed on to the police.”


Comments (58)

  1. They are so young. Makes me so sad.

  2. just some lanky ass kids. that sucks.

  3. “had some of his buddies came out to block the neighbors giving chase.”

    I’d be pissed – bring down every kind of legal hell on the whole building that I could.

  4. Curious and Concerned

    I’m old school , with pre-9/11 and pre-Facebook standards of privacy. And I”m curious — not just about this blog and this post, but in general: What are the standards for posting pictures of people, possibly even of children — alleging that they’ve committed crimes? This photo was apparently provided by neighbors who suspected the people in the photo of crimes — and have not been vetted by police or any process that would support the accuracy of linking the people in the photo to the allegations. My second thought on seeing this is that I have an extremely annoying neighbor. Could I legally and/ethically post her photo with allegations on Facebook, or send it into a widely read blog like this one — as long as the post labeled the behavior that I accused her of as “alleged”? I’m not planning to do this — I’m just trying to clarify what sorts of ethical and factual standards are now commonly seen as appropriate for this type of post — where privacy gets weighed against public interests.

  5. The photo was taken in plain sight (outdoors). The subjects had no reasonable expectation of privacy. Posting these photos might offend your personal sensibilities, but there are no right to privacy implications. The insinuation that the photos are defamatory insofar as they allude to the subjects engaging in criminal conduct is another matter. However, it would be a very flimsy defamation claim.

  6. So where — if anywhere — might someone have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”?

  7. um, private property?

  8. Nope. There’s no expectation of privacy (at least, with respect to photos) standing in your front yard.

  9. Curious and Concerned

    Well, many “private” properties such as condo hallways, work environments, neighbor’s front porches have cameras. Even dressing rooms in stores — and it’s not always posted. At the same time, either in my neighborhood or as a traveler, I wouldn’t snap a picture of a cute kid, or an entrancing scene without asking permission — unless it was something clearly intended for public view, such as a parade.
    I personally would “expect” privacy on my front porch — but that might not be “reasonable” anymore. So then, what about if my porch has screens? Or shades? I realize that this sounds like quibbling — but this post has raised multiple issues for me , and I’m struggling to better understand more current standards.

  10. If your porch is visible from a public right of way (eg, sidewalk, street, alley), then there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, but you do have an expectation of privacy in your own home. There’s no need for the scare quotes, this has been established with plenty of precedent.

  11. Inside your own home and away from any windows/open doors. Sounds snarky but it’s the literal truth. There is no expectation of privacy while in public space or public view, nor in someone else’s private property; a store with cameras in dressing rooms would fall into this category.

  12. I assume you’re referencing the Fourth Amendment, which only applies to government action. In this case a private citizen shot and posted the photos.

  13. You give up your right to privacy when you break into my house or threaten me and my family’s well being.

  14. No, you don’t.

  15. you do in my house.

  16. ok tough, unreasonable guy.

  17. I’m not tough or unreasonable. I’m sick and tired of little punks doing whatever they want and thinking there are no consequences for their behavior.

    Some kid threw a rock at my head for no reason last month as i was walking home from work. when I asked why he did it, he said… “who cares, what are you going to do?”

    Well, I care and I’m going to make sure these little thugs know that when you choose to violate people then there will be consequences.

  18. tough unreasonable guy,
    your ire has nothing to do with privacy rights.

    in fact, letting your emotions get the best of you could get you in trouble. be careful.

  19. Curious and Concerned

    Note though, that this picture wasn’t taken by the two people who gave chase. It was apparently taken by other “folks on Bennett”. A picture taken of people fleeing the house by the people who saw them inside would be a little bit different, I think, or at least meet a higher standard of accuracy linking the people in the photo to the people who were in the house. A picture of people actually IN the house would meet an even higher standard.

  20. You assume that the people who gave chase haven’t seen this photo and identified the suspects. I assume they have. I find it hard to believe that the OP just sent in a picture of two random guys walking in an alley without some substantiation, although I grant that it’s possible.

  21. Curious and Concerned

    I’m trying not to assume anything. I’m acknowledging that my standards for things like privacy and taking people’s photos, and publishing them, and publishing them with allegations of criminal behavior are likely skewed compared to today’s norms. I realize that it’s highly possible that the guys who gave chase could recognize the guys in the house or even know them from the neighborhood. I realize that it’s also possible for someone to go “yeah, that’s them” because it’s “close enough”. I’ve no idea what the journalistic standard for publishing something is — and how or if that varies from the Washington Post, to a blog like PoPville, to a facebook page — and that’s part of what I”m trying to get a better sense of here.

  22. +1

  23. OP here – thanks! Sent in the photos that were taken by my friend who gave chase and confirmed by several neighbors who saw the “youth” entering backyards and staring into houses before the break-in occurred.

  24. OP here – the picture was taken by my friend who did chase these guys out of the house and submitted the same photo to the police.

  25. This is a legal question regarding defamation — specifically libel (or written defamation).

    Here’s a decent explanation of libel: http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1153

    I’m not familiar with this area of the law, but I assume most journalists are familiar with what they can and cannot publish.

  26. I’m old-school, too, and I have no issue with this. I’ll let PoP, or the OP, or the neighbors, speak for themselves, but I’m confident that there was good cause to believe that these photos are of the actual robbers – perhaps, for example, via eyewitness identifications by the neighbors who chased them? Second, this is not a privacy issue. There is no expectation of privacy walking down the street, and never was, even in the good old days. There’s a potential libel issue, and if these fine young men feel like their reputations were defamed, they should bring an action to vindicate their rights. (I would caution them, however, that truth is a defense.) Third, I will help you resolve the ethical issue – when you receive an email containing photos of alleged burglars that has been provided to the police, where the individuals were identified by eyewitnesses (yes, I’m assuming, but it’s my hypo), and you post it online – ethical. If you merely have an annoying neighbor and you post her photo as a crime suspect without any reasonable belief whatsoever that your claims are accurate – unethical. Pretty simple. To paraphrase Potter Stewart, I might not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it.

  27. OP again – picture was taken by the same person who chased the guys out of the house. Wouldn’t have submitted it to PoP otherwise.

  28. FOX, MSNBC, CNN, etc all do this daily. They are arguable more read / watched outlets than PoPville.

  29. Arguably?

  30. You can’t expect him, or whoever controls the postings, to 100% vet every single submission. It’s not a news outlet, it’s a “community blog”. Even major news outlets forego vetting of stories to report “alleged” activities. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so, it’s up to the reader to draw their own conclusions, if they choose to do so.

  31. Question- In a case like this where its obvious these kids live in the area–where these neighbors gave chase- have they now put themselves in danger for being potential witnesses say if these kids get arrested?

  32. Are you kidding? Providing testimony as a witness is a good thing. Stand up for your community. The police / prosecutors needed your help to do their job.

  33. Kidding about what?

  34. “put themselves in danger for being potential witnesses”

  35. So does it put them in potential danger or not? Will they be targeted? Will they now have to move because the friends who blocked the way know who they are etc? I never said NOT to cooperate, I asked about concern for potential backlash.

  36. “Snitches get stitches” is a real thing.

  37. It’s not snitching when you’ve never been on their side to begin with. If one burglar cut a deal with the prosecutor and gave up his buddy, that would be snitching. If someone burglarizes my house and I call the police, that is not snitching.
    And most of the criminals in DC are really DUMB. We’re not talking organized crime here. Ask MPD if there’s anything to be concerned about and they will look out for you, but there’s no need to be afraid of testifying. I’ve been there twice and I’ll do it again if I see something.

  38. If there was danger in being a witness, I don’t see how chasing would change that – they witnessed it before they gave chase. But, like others said, providing testimony to crimes is a good thing.

  39. Patrick Division

    Don’t worry, DC Youth Services and our old buddy Phil Mendelson will soon have these misunderstood teens up at New Beginnings, where seasoned mentors can teach them advanced job skills and coping mechanisms, like armed robbery, home invasion, and carjacking.

  40. Pops,

    Thank you for posting a picture of these thugs. Now i know who to keep an eye out for while trying to keep my family and home safe.

  41. So what you are going to do if you see these two in the street, “stand your ground”?

  42. It’s not about seeing them in the street, it’s about witnessing them committing another crime. At which point we will be sure to call you up and get your professional advice on what to do next.

  43. Post the flyers on their apartment buildings. Hopefully their mothers or grandmothers will see it and smack some sense into them. Believe me, their families also don’t want any trouble.

  44. While I’ve got no beef with posting the flyers, I’m not optimistic that familial discipline will turn their lives around. It’s obviously done nothing so far, and what are the chances that this B&E is their first brush with the law.

  45. They may not want it, but I’m not optimistic they’re capable of doing anything to avoid it.

  46. It seems beyond allegedly since the neighbors actually chased the guys out of a home then took photos on the street. You could take anyone’s photo on a public street. Considering their first-hand knowledge, I see no reason to wait for a conviction before putting the word out. With your neighbor, if you know it’s not true, it’s slander. Now if you said, I think she’s a junkie because I saw her snort a white powder, that would seem ok and more in line with the case at hand. Make sense?

  47. So according to my home security company who just installed cameras in the front of my house–if you are on a side walk or public street you have no expectation of privacy. Additionally, the two humans in the picture were identified as being the same two humans fleeing a house (as in running out the front door) that was burglarized the day before. Along with a third human who’s picture was snapped as he was being chased from the home with loot in hand . Thank goodness for nosey…I mean good neighbors.

  48. OP again: part of the frustration of the neighbors whose houses have been hit is that the people responsible are known (as indicated by the flyer) by several neighbors and even the police have said they are familiar with these guys. Unfortunately, the people who know their names are not speaking to the cops. 6 break-ins on the same one block street is ridiculous. The no-snitch policy is even more ridiculous.

    As far as the defamation/privacy debate is concerned, enough of the break-in victims and neighbors who gave chase are connected to the picture that I felt like it was fine to post it. Though I doubt public shaming will do anything to the perps or their families (as one commentator suggested) maybe it will force 5D to do something.

  49. Patrick Division

    Question for the OP. When the photos were submitted to the police, was there any sense of recognition among the officers?? “Oh, we’re familiar with these guys. So they’ve moved from playing dice on the corner to B&E.” Or something along those lines. I doubt this incident would be these lads’ first exposure to the 5D force.

  50. OP here: Yes, there was. Unfortunately that hasn’t translated to any action on the part of 5D, although Commander Solberg (who just left 5D) was very responsive and helpful.

  51. Wow oh wow. I owned a house on Bennett Place for two years and sold it just last year. After I got a pretty substantial amount for the area, about five other houses turned over pretty rapidly and for way above what I had sold my house for. I imagine the newly redone, expensive houses in a still very poor area are drawing new attention. That block was an absolute sh*t show when I lived there due to several group homes and a constant presence of drug dealers on the corner. I wager it’s a lot quieter now, but this is a problem I never had to deal with when I was there. Stay safe and hope you catch the jerks who are behind it.

  52. Also, half the reason living on this block was horrible was that my household, on top of many of the elderly households, constantly called the police on hooligans and nothing ever happened. They never helped at all. Police came by at one point for reasons unrelated to us and asked if we were “okay” when they saw us (only white people in the neighborhood). They did not give a crap about the other residents.

  53. Former Bennett Pl Resident

    Omg, I know! I haven’t been back in the two years since I sold my house, but now I’m really curious to see what it’s like there.

  54. It’s not just “white people” moving on the block. White people have lived on the block for years. When we moved to Bennett Pl two years ago, it was an adventure every day. But over the past two years more home owners and contentious renters have moved on the street. Plus crime control follows capital. And plenty of capital is being spread out all along the H street corridor. Green is the color of progress—not white. I’m just sayin…

  55. I agree with this (green being the main difference). But when I was one of few white people living there, I received preferential treatment from police on more than one occasion, and I was not well off. The reason for the break-ins is totally about more green on the block. My reference was more about my experience with the police when I lived there vs other peoples experience in the neighborhood. Hardworking, good neighbors who tried to look out for people and make the block better often tried to get help from the police wouldn’t give them the time of day, whereas the police seemed to go out of their way to help me. This was more than 2 years ago, FYI, I’m sure things have changed.

  56. I am a resident on Bennett and 3 people tried to break into my house about 2 weeks ago. I’ve lived here for the last 2 years, and the last month has been the worst of them all. Ironically, when there was even more drugs than now, young men shooting dice, prostitutes in my alley, loud neighbors, I felt safer than I do today (with regards to my home and not the street in general). My wife saw those men in the photos, so did two other neighbors. I know who took a photo of the 3rd guy running out of the house with his loot in hand. I’m confident that they are the primary suspects…of that burglary, but they are not the guys that attempted to break in to my home. When my house was almost burglarized, there were men posted on each side of my house. Luckily for us, our nosy (wonderful) neighbors heard what was happening, confronted the men, and then called the police. Their home was broken into a week later. With that said, I estimate that there are at least 6 different guys “allegedly” breaking into homes. We are the victims. It is our “privacy” having been violated that we are trying to defend.

  57. Wow that is so scary. I totally agree with you- the debate above about “privacy” is completely ludicrous. As the person who’s house has been broken into, you’re the one being violated.
    I’m guessing that many of the newer renovated homes had their bars removed from windows and doors? I would look into possibly securing those again. There are a lot of nicer options out there than there used to be. I even had security doors installed when we bought our house in what is considered a “nice” neighborhood (and many of our neighbors do not have them). The harder you make it for someone to break in, the better.


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