D.C. residents chase down robbery suspect

May 16, 2013

Residents of Capitol Hill north of Lincoln Park took matters into their own hands Tuesday evening after a youth snatched a cellphone from a woman’s hand: They chased down the 14-year-old, and authorities caught two accomplices the same age, D.C. police said.

Police don’t normally advise people to go after crime suspects, instead urging them to remember events and details and then quickly dial 911. But in this case, a captain from the 1st Police District made special mention of the incident on the department’s Internet bulletin board.

The robbery occurred about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at 13th and C streets NE, a residential neighborhood where unarmed street robberies are on the rise, according to police. The victim was standing at the intersection when the three youngsters approached, according to the police report; one asked to use her cellphone to call his mother.

The woman held the phone and dialed the number, but it was disconnected, police said. She dialed a second number and turned on the speaker so that the youth could talk but not hold the phone, the report says. The youth “then snatched the phone from [the woman’s] hand and fled,” the police report says.

Attempts to reach the victim and the people who chased down one of the youths were not successful, and the police captain who posted details about the crime and the special apprehension on the Internet bulletin board declined to comment further.

Capitol Hill has been the scene of some vicious crimes over the past year. In August, Thomas C. Maslin was brutally beaten in a park near Eastern Market by men who stole his cellphone. One was convicted May 1 and faces up to 105 years in prison when he is sentenced July 2. Two others face trial in July.

In December, Jason Anthony Emma, who had just moved to Capitol Hill, was shot to death in his car in the 1200 block of C St. NE. Police have not made any arrests, but authorities have said robbery was a possible motive. Emma was killed one block from where Tuesday’s robbery occurred.

D.C. police statistics show that robberies without guns in the police patrol area where Tuesday’s attack occurred — streets east of 13th Street NE — have risen from 13 at this time in 2012 to 21 this year. Robberies with guns, however, have dropped from nine to seven over that same period, the police statistics show.

The woman in Tuesday’s robbery quickly got her cellphone back, according to police. The youths, one of whom celebrated his birthday the day of the attack, were charged as juveniles with robbery.

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