Despite increased University Police Department patrols on the west side of campus, a string of robberies occurred in the area the last week, according to city police reports and University Crime Alerts.
On Tuesday, junior Peter Shambora had his cell phone stolen around 6 p.m. in an alley near his townhouse between 25th and 26th streets and I and K streets, and around an hour earlier, Caroline Space, a student at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts in Georgetown, was robbed of her cell phone at the corner of 25th and K streets, according to police reports. On Wednesday at around 12:45 p.m., a female student was allegedly robbed of her iPhone at the corner of 22nd and H streets, and around 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, a female was robbed in front of Building K on 23rd Street, according to University Crime Alerts and police reports.
Six robberies have been reported in police service area 207 in the month of February, according to the Metropolitan Police Department’s crime map Web site, compared to one in January and three in December. Many reported incidents have occurred within the vicinity of the Foggy Bottom Metro station, and MPD officers have repeatedly mentioned the public transit stop as a means robbers use to flee the area.
Shambora, who reported being robbed last Tuesday, said in an interview Sunday he was walking toward his townhouse talking on his cell phone when a male came up behind him, put him in a headlock and grabbed his phone from him. He chased the man as far as he could before calling UPD, he said.
“[UPD] was real quick about it, they got here within five minutes of calling them, if that,” Shambora said.
Space, who also reported being robbed Tuesday, said in an interview Sunday that while walking along K Street talking on her phone, she was approached by two teenagers, around 15 years old, right in front of St. Paul’s Parish. Space said that one of the suspects “ripped my phone out of my hand” while the other held her back from fighting.
“At the end, they were kind of antagonizing me and enticing me to chase after them,” Space said, adding that she did not run after them.
Both Shambora and Space said that although they were robbed, they will only make minor changes to the way they travel around D.C. Both said they are much more aware of what is going on, and Space said she is going to try and not talk on her phone while walking along the street.
“Since [the robbery] I’ve become a lot more hyper-aware of what’s going around me,” Shambora said.
Shambora said that these crimes are an inherent part of living in the city.
“Short of having a UPD officer at the corner of every block, there’s really not much they can do,” he said. “I’m not sure all the criticism of UPD… is really fair. It really is a guerrilla crime.”
Space said while the crime was startling, she was more shocked by the young age of the robbers.
“I was just really sad that these two young kids felt the need to do something like this at such a young age,” Space said.
University Police Chief Dolores Stafford did not return requests for comment.