The University and Metropolitan Police departments are keeping a closer eye on outdoor seating near The Avenue after a rash of reported thefts this fall.
In each of the seven cases reported to UPD since the beginning of this school year, individuals noticed that their personal items were stolen while they sat outside restaurants near The Avenue, Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said. Six cases involved students, and the most commonly stolen items included purses, wallets and backpacks.
The strip of retail along I Street between 22nd and 23rd streets includes dining venues like Whole Foods Market, Sweetgreen and Roti Mediterranean, all of which offer outdoor seating.
The Metropolitan Police Department received four theft reports on that block in the last month, according to MPD documents. All of the incidents occurred between 1 and 5 p.m. One woman’s purse was stolen from under her seat, and another woman’s wallet was stolen from her bag on the back of her chair.
“We have addressed the issue with local restaurants and businesses,” MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said. “We urge people to be aware of their surroundings and secure their personal property.”
Since the school year began, UPD has received 98 theft reports, according to the department's crime log. From Jan. 1 to Oct. 15, MPD received 670 theft reports for the entire Second District, where GW falls. The theft numbers are up 16 percent from the same time frame last year, according to a crime statistics report.
The block falls under MPD's jurisdiction, but Darnell said UPD shares his department’s crime reports and “works closely with MPD to locate suspects.”
“We encourage students, while in any public and open area, to closely protect and guard their personal items, and do not leave them unattended or lying in the open where someone can easily walk off with a backpack, purse or other valuables,” Darnell said.
Sweetgreen manager Carly Trudell said that while she has not noticed any incidents, she would advise her employees to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior. Representatives from Whole Foods Market and Roti Mediterranean did not return requests for comment.