Armed robberies and robberies have spiked in the District in recent months, and police chief Cathy L. Lanier is telling residents at community meetings this week that she has plans to stop it, in part by creating a reward program for tips that lead to arrests.
Lanier spoke Tuesday night to more than 50 people at the D.C. Federation of Citzens Associations about the surge in crimes and said that police have arrested 108 robbery suspects in the first three weeks of the year. The arrests come as police report that more than 300 people have been robbed in that span, a 68 percent increase over the same period last year. Among them, 139 were robbed at gunpoint.
In 2011, property crime jumped by six percent, largely due to the growing problem of thefts of smartphones, computer tablets and other electronic devices from people and vehicles.
In response, police officials have increased uniformed patrols to provide higher visibility and plainclothes officers to help nab suspects, Lanier said Tuesday at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church in the Woodley Park neighborhood. Lanier also spent Monday night in a similar way, speaking to more than 200 people in Shepherd Park about the spike in robberies.
In addition, Lanier said police would announce a program this week that will offer between $1,000 and $10,000 for information that leads to arrrests and convictions of robbers. The lower amount will be paid for tips and the larger amount for tipsters who are willing to help investigators and testify, in necessary, to achieve a conviction.
“There is no honor among thieves,” Lanier said. “They will turn each other in, if for no other reason to eliminate the competition.”
City officials also are using Department of Public Work employees and on-duty firefighters to offer extra eyes and ears in the community.
Police asked residents to help them lower the robbery and theft numbers by being aware of their surroundings; to call 911 to report suspicious activity; and to not leave homes or cars unlocked, or leave valuables in vehicles.
“Help us reduce their opportunities until we catch these guys,” Lanier said.
Read more: The Post’s crime coverage