August 7, 2012

Regarding the Aug. 5 front-page article “As D.C. changes, police try to adapt”:

The M Street corridor, connecting Nationals Park, Waterfront Metro, Arena Stage and residential Southwest Waterfront, is a busy thoroughfare by day but can be unsafe at night.

About 9:30 p.m. last Thursday, my wife and I were walking west on the south side of M Street as a No. 74 bus stopped to discharge a passenger. Out of the shadows came a young man, who quickly removed a bicycle from the rack on the front of the bus.

The bicycle’s owner jumped off of the bus, shouted at the thief and wrested the bicycle from his grasp. The owner quickly put his bike back on the rack and got back on the bus as it pulled away from the curb.

A second young man came out of the shadows and shouted to the first, “Go get the bike, man.” The would-be-thief ran alongside the moving bus, jumped in front of it and pulled the bike off the rack again.

The driver, to his credit, stopped abruptly in the middle of M Street as the owner of the bicycle jumped off the bus and grabbed his bicycle. In the scuffle, the owner was thrown to the pavement while holding onto his bike. He quickly got up, put the bike back on the rack and jumped back in the bus as it pulled away. The shouting men retreated into the shadows.

It all happened quicker than I could have called 911. My wife restrained me, an 85-year-old would-be-good-Samaritan, from getting involved. I said to a couple of young women from the neighborhood who witnessed this incident, “Where are the police when you need them?” One replied, “Oh, probably still at the ballgame.”

Bill Smart, Washington