Early Sunday in the District’s busy Columbia Heights area, as people headed home from jobs or a night out, five people surrounded and robbed a bicyclist.

It set off a chase into the Metro system, which thieves and robbers sometimes use to flee.

The robbery occurred at 15th and Irving streets NW about 1:15 a.m. when one of the five grabbed the victim’s bicycle and tried to pull it away, police said. Two people punched the bicyclist in the face.

Another person then jumped on the bike and headed east on Irving, toward the nearby Columbia Heights Metro station.

The bicyclist and a witness pursued, following the robbers into the station and contacting police, officials said.

Three robbers got away on a train, but two youths were stopped and charged with robbery, police said.

It was unclear whether the bike was returned to its owner.