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“Is this PODS company criminally liable for their “smash and run” destruction?”

by Prince Of Petworth April 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm 23 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

On the north side of the 1200 block of Girard Street NW. The PODS company made three separate trips to their “Pod” to try to collect it and to inflict the catastrophic damage to this tree. When confronted, the driver of the truck just got in his vehicle and drove off.

I have included photos of the damage all around the “pod” and the contact info for the person who obtained a public space permit for the “pod” in the first place.

I have reached out to DC’s Urban Forestry to come out right away to try to cut away the damaged limbs and save this tree.

But what about this company and their cavalier destruction of city property and an undeniable public good like a young and growing street tree? Is this PODS company criminally liable for their “smash and run” destruction?

At a minimum they should compensate the city for this horrible damage. DDOT and DCRA should weigh whether they should be entitled to operate in the city – unless they post a bond for this kind of damage?”



  • PettyShabazz

    The hyperbole is rather strong in this one

    • MadMax

      Undeniable public good!

  • Anonthony

    If you’re going after criminal charges, have you filed a police report? You’ll need to do that before they can issue a warrant for the arrest of the PODS CEO.

    • PettyShabazz

      And just in the off-chance the CEO decides to flee the country he may wish to preemptively reach out to the State Department so they can put the CEO on the no-fly list

    • anondc

      Make sure to insist that the cop writing the report and obtaining the warrant is wearing a uniform with gold fringe around the “U.S.” flag, otherwise the warrant will do you no good.

  • Wendy Testaburger

    So, technically, the PODS driver is not supposed to drop off the POD if there is not a certain amount of clearance (width and height) to drop off the POD. I think it’s about 15 ft. in height but I’ve had a POD delivered that didn’t meet that restriction, so I think it’s up to the discretion of the POD delivery guy. The loading and unloading of the PODS is pretty violent, and they have these bars that go over and around the storage container to load it to the bed of the truck (hence the need for the height clearance).

    If you must go after someone, I think your best bet would be to record the name and permit number on the permit signs and call up the DC TOPS and report the destruction to them. DC TOPS issues the no parking permit signs so they would have a record of the permit applicant and may be able to fine them somehow. I’m sure the PODS contract probably has a disclaimer that they are not responsible for any damage that occurs when delivering the PODS (short of gross negligence or willful misconduct), so your best recourse (if you need to go after someone) would be the person using the PODS.

    • textdoc

      “so your best recourse (if you need to go after someone) would be the person using the PODS.” Seriously?? The end-user of the pod isn’t responsible for the company’s carelessness in delivering it.

      • James

        No kidding. This is the driver’s fault not the user. If the original driver was able to drop it off, why is the pickup driver having so much difficulty? Don’t they just do the same steps as drop off but reverse.

    • Shaw was here

      Some kinds of public space permits require the person who applied for the permit to pay a deposit fee to cover damage in the public space. Usually it’s construction permits, but it’s worth checking with DDOT. Presumably, whoever ordered the POD would argue with the POD company to get reimbursed for whatever the DDOT charge ends up being.

  • dcd

    PoP, you have done us all a tremendous disservice. Friday afternoon is a low traffic time, and in posting this now you have deprived us of what would doubtless have been a hilariously diverting series of posts. Shame!

    • Emmaleigh504


    • textdoc

      Aw, come on. The OP may be overly worked up about the whole thing, but he/she does have a point — a delivery company shouldn’t be able to cause major damage to a street tree (which is city property) without having to pay some kind of fine.

    • FridayGirl

      +2. Also, it seems like perhaps that tree could have used some trimming anyway if the POD and truck broke branches so easily.

      • textdoc

        It was a young tree = smaller branches = more easily broken.

        • FridayGirl

          Ah, valid point.

  • WanderingWahoo

    Not sure whether D.C. would be willing to prosecute, but the D.C. Code criminalizes injuring trees in the public right of way.

    D.C. Code Section 22-3310 – Destroying trees or protections thereof on public grounds:
    “It shall be unlawful for any person willfully to … break, wound, destroy, or in any manner injure any … tree not owned by that person … under a penalty not to exceed, for each and every such offense:
    (1) In the case of any tree 55 inches or greater in circumference when measured at a height of four and one half feet, $15,000 or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both; or
    (2) For vines, bushes, shrubs, and smaller trees, $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.”

    • FridayGirl

      I feel like it would be a stretch to prove that the PODS driver “willfully” knocked some branches. I mean, along similar lines, would they prosecute a bus driver for running into branches that stuck out into the street?

      • WanderingWahoo

        If I am understanding the OP correctly, and taking her statements as true, the driver returned three separate times, injuring the tree each time. I think you could get across the line to willful based on those facts. His conduct may not have been willful in injuring the tree initially, but once he was aware of the consequences of his actions, and continued nonetheless, it crossed over to willful.

        As far as your bus driver hypo, I think it would be difficult to prove that the bus driver acted willfully without additional facts. Of course, in the case of a bus driver who repeatedly drives the same route and repeatedly strikes the same tree branch, one might argue he should be culpable.

  • PJL

    Mmmkay. DC doesn’t even bother to keep repeat offenders of violent crime off the street, but I’m sure they’ll make time to prosecute this tree assault.

    • Jason Arbogast

      Ah, but what about the broken branches theory of crime; doesn’t the sight of downed branches invite violent crime?

      • AdMoKalTri

        This is an unbelievably underappreciated comment.

  • KJG

    I agree with the OP that this is infuriating. Yes, there are lots of problems in this city, but having respect for shared and community property isn’t a bad place to start.

    I’m not sure what can be done, but I’d recommend reaching out to your ANC Rep; s/he may be able to help direct you to the right place. Thanks, OP, for caring about this.


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