Group robberies increase near campus

A GW student was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue near 23rd Street one June night when it happened. A group of about 10 juveniles surrounded her, shoved her to the ground, sprayed pepper spray in her face, grabbed her bag and fled.

It was a terrifying scenario that would replay itself several times around campus throughout the summer.

An 18-year-old Maryland resident walking near the corner of 24th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in June suffered a broken leg after a group of 15 to 20 young men, estimated to be between 15 and 18 years old, tried to steal his watch. Less than a month later, a 15-year-old boy was robbed just two blocks away, near 26th Street by three males who appeared to be juveniles. That robbery occurred in daylight, at 6 p.m.

And in early August, a GW graduate student suffered a laceration to the back of his neck after a group of college-aged men and women attacked him with a stick when he was walking near the corners of 24th Street on Pennsylvania Avenue, and K Street.

Though all of the incidents occurred off campus, Metropolitan Police Sgt. Dustin Nevel told Foggy Bottom residents last month that robberies occur in the area because of its proximity to the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station.

According to the MPD crime map Web site, there have been ten robberies in Police Service Area 207 – which encompasses GW – between May 1 and Aug. 24.

That total is up from seven from the same time period last year. MPD has focused extra manpower on Pennsylvania Avenue this summer, and there have been three incidences of violent crime reported in the area in August.

University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said students should be aware when walking in the District, especially during common times for robberies.

“There are peaks of time when these crimes are more prevalent, such as when it is warm outside in the evening, near the holiday season or when the economy is down. However, it can happen anytime, so people always need to use good judgment when planning their travels around the city,” Stafford said in an e-mail.

“General tips include being aware of your surroundings and avoiding walking alone at night. Even groups of people can be susceptible to this type of incident during the late night hours,” she added.

Stafford said students should use the 4-RIDE service or Colonial Express shuttle when possible, and to take taxis when traveling off-campus or outside the 4-RIDE boundaries.

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