Sunday, May 8, 2011

Vetting the Neighborhood

As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know,  I got mugged early Friday night while walking around a potential new neighborhood.

I'm in DC looking for apartments, and my front runner was located on a really pretty street in a decent chunk of a somewhat questionable neighborhood.  I decided I'd return to the area around dusk to walk around by myself to see if I felt safe.  I talked to a few residents on my potential street, all of whom said that the neighborhood was fine...

...except for one block bordering a housing project.

So what did I do?

Of course I walked over there to see if it was really all that bad.

As I walked by, my mom called my cell phone.  Stupidly, I answered as I was walking by two guys on the sidewalk.  I'm not sure if they decided to rob me before they saw me take out my cell phone, or if it was the iPhone that did me in.  A few seconds into my phone conversation, I heard running behind me.  I ALWAYS assume that people running up behind me are trying to mug me, so I clenched my purse and turned around.  Usually, I am met by joggers or something else nonthreatening.  But this time, I was met by two guys, one on each side of me.  One grabbed my phone and the other grabbed my purse.

I didn't let go of either right away, and the guy going for my purse ended up dragging me about a foot before he wrenched my bag away.  I sprinted after him instinctually, leaving my shoes and an Anthro shopping bag in the street.  I followed him through the projects, eventually confronting him in the entrance to a building he ducked into.  He pushed past me with my wallet, leaving my purse on the floor.  I grabbed it and kept chasing him.  I lost him after a few minutes; I followed him up a wall but lost sight of him when I turned the corner.  When I returned to the street, my shopping bag (containing the newly-purchased and absolutely beautiful Botanical Crossways Dress) was gone.  Not surprising, but still very sad.  (PS: If anyone sees this in a size six...put it on hold for me?)  (EDIT: A MILLION THANKS TO THE WONDERFUL HALEY!!!!  She found my dress and put it on hold for me in Memphis!!)

I filed a police report, but don't have much hope of getting anything back.

The wonderful news is that I didn't get shot or stabbed in my pursuit of these guys.  I didn't think they had weapons; I felt as though they would have shown them to me or yelled something about them while I was chasing them if they'd been armed...but there's no guarantee of that and there were at least two occasions during the chase when the guy with my purse could have stuck me if he'd wanted to.  For a simple purse grab, I doubt anybody would want to turn up the heat by causing that kind of injury, but you never know the type of person you're dealing with.

The other good news is that I got back my purse, which I truly LOVE (not as much as my life, but it does make me feel better to have it back, honestly), and my digital camera was still in there (it was in a weird-looking bag so I don't think the thief knew what it was).  My shoes weren't stolen.  My credit card company will give me the money back for the dress.

Although the area I walked by is several blocks away and is not near the path I'd normally walk down to go anywhere, I have decided not to take that apartment.

I had fitting room reviews to post this weekend, but the photos were on my phone, which is long gone, so I'm afraid those will have to wait a few days.  I'm sorry I haven't been quite as responsive to comments as I usually am.

I'm fine.  I've got some scratches from climbing that wall during the chase and from being knocked down/dragged at the start of this whole thing.  My wrist is bruised and a bit swollen, but I don't think anything is broken.  My right bicep really hurts.  Otherwise I am in one piece.

I often tell people how fortunate I feel to be a reasonably-sized woman (i.e., not 100 pounds and petite) because I don't think I'm an obvious target for crime.  Walking down this street, cell phone in hand, shopping bag over my shoulder, I was an easy victim.  I know I should feel stupid for running after those guys, but frankly I am glad I did.  Of course, that's informed by the fact that I know in hindsight that I don't get seriously injured...but giving chase made me feel less like a hapless damsel and is simultaneously comforting and a little scary ("What if they'd had knives?") as I process what happened to me.

Still, next time, I think I'll just let them go.  That "What if?" is a big one.

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