D.C. robberies at night push police to offer safety-tip cards
By Martin Weil,
D.C. police, in an unusual effort to help prevent the kind of robberies that have been particularly common in Washington in recent weeks, are distributing cards to people leaving transit stops advising them on how to reduce the risk of being victims.
The effort, which is taking place this week in the 1st Police District — which embraces Capitol Hill and much of downtown — comes after an analysis of robbery patterns, according to Cmdr. Daniel Hickson, who heads the district.
Based on the study, he told community residents in an e-mail group list posting, “our primary concern is individuals walking home from public transportation in the evening.’’
In many of the robberies, police reports indicate, cash and such electronic devices as smartphones were taken from pedestrians.
In addition to taking the devices at gunpoint or punching or pushing their victims, robbers have often snatched the items out of people’s hands.
In one of the most recent similar incidents, what police described as “an electronic device” was snatched from somebody’s hand at Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill about 8 p.m. Monday. The robber ran south on 11th Street SE, police said.
Hickson has said that his district “experienced a significant increase in robberies” last December. New deployment strategies have been put into effect, he said, aimed at “getting ahead of holiday season robberies.”
The goal is to prevent robberies from occurring and being well-positioned to respond if they do, he said.
This week’s distribution of the cards is the third scheduled since late last month.
Posted information indicates that they have been handed out at stations including Gallery Place, Metro Center and Potomac Avenue.
Hickson has asked for community involvement in the distribution effort, which Chief Cathy L. Lanier has endorsed as sending “a strong message.’’ He said transit police are taking part in the effort to alert residents.
According to an earlier posting by police, many of this year’s increased number of street robberies, in the District and nationwide, have occurred in residential neighborhoods on routes taken to and from homes, stores and public transportation.
The card’s tips include being aware of surroundings, avoiding distractions and resisting the temptation of multi-tasking.
“Wait to make phone calls” to check e-mail and listen to music, the card suggests. It also cautions against displaying electronic devices and recommends traveling with others and walking in well-lit areas at night.
The cards will be distributed from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Archives Metro station; Thursday at Stadium-Armory; and Friday at 12th and H streets NE, a major Metrobus transfer point.
They also will be given out from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Eastern Market Metro, one of the system’s busiest and used by shoppers as well as commuters.