simonbillenness: (Default)
[personal profile] simonbillenness
Yesterday, I was mugged just a block away from my home. I live on Capitol Hill in northeast Washington, DC. It was at 4.30pm in the afternoon in sight of several witnesses.

I was carrying groceries in one hand and dry-cleaning in the other. From the corner of my eye, I thought I saw someone close behind me. I didn't look around. The next moment, I felt an arm wrap around my neck from behind.

I could see people on the other side of the street. I yelled for the police. I was on my back. I think that I saw one of the assailants notice my front left pocket wallet. I rolled over on my front, pulled out my "fake wallet" from my back pocket, and yelled: "here's my wallet." They took it.

I felt a couple of medium blows to my head, which I quickly covered with my arms. Then the assailants ran off. I didn't see them but the witnesses on the other side of the road said it was three young men.

The muggers ran away. They only got away with my "fake wallet" which contained two dollars and pieces of cardboard that look like credit cards.

Aside from minor scrapes and bruises, I'm fine. I was not robbed of my real wallet, cell, or PDA. I escaped with even my clothes undamaged.

My neighbors on the block called the police, gave the officers a good description of the muggers, and took good care of me while the police arrived.

The patrol officer took the report in a very polite, helpful, and efficient way. I am going to email his commander to commend him.

Then two of my neighbors walked me the block over to my house. They were disgusted by the youths mugging people in the neighborhood. One of them said: "that kid has a bullet with his name on it." I am going to buy them dinner next week.

I am somewhat amazed that I had the presence of mind to hand over the "fake wallet." I'm definitely buying a replacement.

I read the Washington Post police blotter in the Thursday "DC Extra" every week. I like to keep track of any crime in my neighborhood. I had noticed a week or so ago a report of kids in a car mugging two people around the same time two blocks south.

I posted my account of the crime on local community listservs. Someone then posted it to the local Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) listserv. Finally, at 11.30pm that night, I was amazed that the DC Chief of Police Cathy Lanier took the time to reply the posting. This is what she posted:

Thanks for posting this to the 1D listserv. This senseless crime is very unfortunate. It was ingenious thinking to have the empty wallet. I am also very glad that this victim was not badly injured and that community members assisted. I have been given more details on this and will reach out to the victim. Inspector Robinson and I will also aggressively follow-up on this and make sure officers are working the area to catch this kind of activity."

Cathy Lanier
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, DC 20001


I hope that, by sharing my story with my neighbors, it will help them avoid a mugging. I also hope that it will help the police catch the assailants and make our streets safer.

However, I would not want the MPD to spend too much time on my case. Aside from a couple of scrapes and bruises, I am fine. The muggers only got away with my "fake wallet" that two dollars and a bunch of cardboard posing as credit cards. Other people are victims of much more serious crimes every day. I hope that the MPD does not focus on my case to the detriment of much more serious crimes.

I will be even more alert when walking in my neighborhood. I never wear my Ipod. I visibly scan the neighborhood as I walk down the street and look in the eyes of any suspicious individuals approaching me. I rarely use my cell phone on the street and I may stop doing so altogether.

In addition to the folks that walked me home, a neighbor who read the story on the listserv just called to see if I was all right. Despite the crime, this remains the most closely-knit community in which I have ever lived. That reassures me greatly.

Date: 2008-09-19 07:34 pm (UTC)
nwhyte: (not happy)
From: [personal profile] nwhyte
Jeepers! Glad to hear you are OK!

Date: 2008-09-19 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kimberkit.livejournal.com
Yowzers. Glad you're okay.

Date: 2008-09-19 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dylanesque29.livejournal.com
Ugh, glad you're ok. That fake wallet business is some slick shit.

Date: 2008-09-20 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thebostonreader.livejournal.com
Simon, I'm sorry to hear about what happened, and really glad you got out of it ok. The fake wallet thing is a great idea!

Date: 2008-09-20 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nicolle.livejournal.com
Ditto on the glad you are okay. And brilliant thinking on the fake wallet. I sometimes put a key between my fingers when I come home too late at night from lab, but that's mostly me being scared than any real risk. I can't imagine living in a neighborhood like that...

Date: 2008-09-20 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] simonbillenness.livejournal.com
I sometimes hold my key between my fingers too. You can poke an assailant in the eye then run off. It also allows you to quickly unlock your front door and escape inside.

Despite my fantasies of beating the living crap out of any muggers, I think I'm more sensible to flee instead.

Date: 2008-09-21 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] entropicangel.livejournal.com
wow, quick thinking ... I wonder if I should try that fake wallet thing.

Is awesome to hear you're ok, and with such caring neighbors, too!

Date: 2008-09-21 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tikvah.livejournal.com
I'm glad that you're OK. The fake wallet idea was great.
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