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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eyes on the Street

I thought I would share an experience I had this weekend as a reminder not to leave valuables in your car, to lock your doors, and to watch for and report suspicious behavior; all stuff that should be obvious to any urban dweller (but sometimes forgotten...). Hopefully I scared the bejezus out of one criminal so he'll leave my slice of heaven alone.

I drove to Pentagon City on Saturday morning to take care a bunch of errands. After paying to leave the parking garage with a twenty dollar bill, I guess my cash change fell out of my pocket onto the seat without me noticing (stupid mistake number one). On arriving home, I parked on the street in front of the house and unloaded my groceries. Inadvertently, I failed to lock my car doors (stupid mistake number two).

A few hours later, I noticed a guy pass by the front window of the house twice -- back and forth. Noting the slightly unusual behavior, I watched him as he did it two more times. He seemed to notice me looking at him. I still wasn't too alarmed, but kept looking out casually to observe the increasingly suspicious behavior.

I guess I looked away for a second, because the next thing I saw was the guy getting out of my car and beginning to walk away briskly. Adrenaline pumping, I ran out the front door and began angrily yelling expletives at him ("What the ___ were you doing in my car?" etc.). Probably surprised to have been busted or by my excited demands, he handed over the wad of cash he'd just taken. He started yelling back at me that I shouldn't have left my car unlocked (seriously...). I kept up my screaming rants about his theft and told him I was calling the cops and would call the police if I ever saw him again. He ran off, as I continued yelling.

I called 911 and gave a description of the criminal. The police were very responsive -- they drove around the block looking for the man wearing the clothing I described. They then stopped by my house to discuss what I witnessed and assured me they would keep driving around the area with their eyes out for that afternoon. I was very impressed with the response time and with the officer's concern that this man be responsible for repeat car thefts in the area.

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