Rob­beries are down sharply this year

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - BY MARTIN WEIL martin.weil@wash­post.com

Rob­beries, both those at gun­point and with­out guns, have de­clined sharply in the Dis­trict in the first half of this year, but a cou­ple of re­cent in­ci­dents demon­strate how un­pre­dictable the crime can be on city streets.

With the first six months of the year al­most over, the num­ber of rob­beries car­ried out with a firearm has fallen from 522 last year at this time to 266 this year. The re­duc­tion is al­most 50 per­cent.

On the other hand, un­set­tling and un­ex­pected events con­tinue to oc­cur. Rob­bers take cash and de­mand cell­phones as well. In a more un­usual in­ci­dent, a rob­ber de­manded an ar­ti­cle of cloth­ing at gun­point ear­lier this month on a street near both Gal­laudet Uni­ver­sity and the H Street cor­ri­dor.

Po­lice said the rob­ber ap­proached the vic­tim in the 900 block of 13th Street NE about 11:40 p.m. on May 7. A hand­gun was shown, and the rob­ber “de­manded the vic­tim’s sweater,” po­lice said.

The rob­ber was given the sweater, and he fled. Po­lice are look­ing for him. But the in­ci­dent, along with an­other rob­bery re­cently re­ported, sug­gest the in­her­ent lim­i­ta­tions of ad­vice com­monly given for avoid­ing rob­bery.

Pedes­tri­ans are of­ten cau­tioned against dis­play­ing cell­phones or sim­i­lar valu­ables on the street. But it is ob­vi­ously more dif­fi­cult to avoid be­ing seen with shoes or clothes.

In the other in­ci­dent, po­lice said the vic­tim was ap­proached on Wed­nes­day at 1:20 p.m. in the 6300 block of Fifth Street NW. The would-be rob­ber de­manded the vic­tim’s shoes, po­lice said.

The vic­tim re­fused. He was as­saulted, po­lice said, but the rob­ber fled empty-handed. A 14year-old was ar­rested the next day, po­lice said.

Po­lice have cited ef­forts to re­move guns from the streets as con­tribut­ing to the de­cline in armed rob­beries.

How­ever, rob­beries in which no gun was shown, such as the Fifth Street in­ci­dent, have also de­clined com­pared with the first half of last year.

Based on po­lice fig­ures, the num­ber of rob­beries with­out a gun re­ported last year from Jan. 1 through May 27 was 695. The cor­re­spond­ing fig­ure for this year was 535, a 23 per­cent de­cline.

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