Arrests made in two waves of burglaries in the District

August 4, 2013

The victim awoke early Wednesday to noises in the second-floor hallway of her Northwest Washington home, she told police. She stayed in bed, terrified, and within moments, an intruder entered her bedroom.

She kept her eyes shut, sensing the flicker of a flashlight. Then came the sound of someone rummaging through her belongings. For 10 more minutes, her home on Adams Street in Bloomingdale was ransacked before the burglar left and she felt safe to dial 911.

Police say they have made arrests in two waves of burglaries, in Bloomingdale and Trinidad, that have terrified residents in recent weeks. Break-ins were reported at nearly a dozen homes and businesses, and several were particularly unsettling because they occurred while residents were at home.

Detectives with the 5th Police District arrested Jonathan Robinson, 21, on Wednesday and charged him with first-degree burglary in five break-ins in Bloomingdale since June 2, including three in a two-block stretch of Adams Street. Investigators said Robinson hit three Bloomingdale houses in one night.

And on Thursday, officers arrested a youth after responding to a report of a commercial burglary in the 300 block of P Street NW.

Police officials also announced arrests in a mini-wave of residential and commercial burglaries in nearby Trinidad, in Northeast Washington. Authorities charged Donte Polk, 24, of Northeast with two break-ins, on June 16 and July 23, within blocks of each other on Morse Street NE.

On Thursday, police captured Steven Warren, 20, of Northwest as he broke into a house in the 1200 block of Montello Avenue NE, authorities said. They said Warren was charged with first-degree burglary while armed.

Investigators believe that the suspects operated independently and were not part of a burglary ring, said Cmdr. Andrew Solberg of the 5th District. But police said they are trying to determine whether the suspects were responsible for other crimes and whether other people were involved in the break-ins.

“It doesn’t look like they are related,” Solberg said. “It was good work on the part of the detectives. We’ve had a good 24-hour period.”

A resident of one of three Bloomingdale homes struck Wednesday discovered the break-in after rising about 5 a.m. to prepare for work at the U.S. attorney’s office in the District. The woman, 51, who declined to be identified out of fear for her safety, had been up until 2 a.m., talking with a sister who was visiting from Colorado.

When the woman entered the living room of her T Street rowhouse, which has been in her family for generations, she was shocked to discover that someone had broken in during the short time she had been asleep. The thief, or thieves, had jimmied a front window, broken the window lock and grabbed PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii video game systems, an HP Elite laptop computer and her sister’s handbag.

“It’s a scary moment, knowing someone was in here,” she said.

The woman’s dog hadn’t barked, and somehow a house full of family members had heard nothing, she said.

“He’s bold. He’s got a lot of heart. If one of us had come down here, I don’t know that he would have made it out of here,” she said.

Officials said other burglaries might not have been reported, and they asked residents to report break-ins even if nothing was taken.

In Bloomingdale, the long list of stolen items includes Blu-ray movies, assorted Apple computer and iPod products, other electronic gadgets and expensive handbags. Thieves even took a safe and a bulletproof vest.

D.C. police said that in at least three burglaries, the break-ins occurred at homes in which the occupants were sleeping.

Police used an IP (or Internet protocol) address to track a stolen computer to Robinson’s home on Oakwood Street SE, according to D.C. Superior Court records. After investigators obtained a search warrant, they found a number of stolen items inside, the court records say. Robinson told police that he drove and two others carried out the burglaries, the records say.

Burglars have found easier targets in the 5th District because of lax home security in the summertime, police said.

“In some cases, people get in through unlocked windows,” Solberg said. “I know you want the breeze, but please lock your windows.”

Amid the Victorian-style brownstones and renovated rowhouses of Bloomingdale, residents walked their dogs and sipped wine on restaurant patios one evening last week. Few had heard of the wave of burglaries. Several appeared to take the news in stride, glad to hear of the arrests but philosophical about the break-ins, which were deemed part of life in a transitional neighborhood.

James Little had noticed e-mail alerts about the recent crimes, but he wasn’t too alarmed and noted that his home was broken into three years ago.

“We’ve just persevered and said it happens to everyone,” said Little, 43, who bought his rowhouse six years ago. “You keep hearing about crimes, but people keep moving in. They keep buying houses.

“The neighborhood is awesome.”

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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