T here, and I’m about to get real with you. I’ve lived in D.C. for almost 6 years and plan on staying here the rest of my life, nbd. In my time here I have very rarely felt scared on the DC streets – whether it’s 1pm or 1am. However, in early October my safety in the city got a little rocked.
It was a normal DC day – a little overcast, the metro was delayed to hell, and I was running late to a Saturday morning brunch. Soon enough, I was at 801, a popular restaurant in Shaw, on the second floor enjoying a mimosa with my friends. Right after I ordered, someone swiped my bag off the back of my chair. I didn’t realize it, and the thought of being robbed didn’t even pop into my mind. At first we thought a waiter might have moved it, another girl accidentally thought it was hers if it was on the floor, etc. Being robbed at noon on a Saturday on the 2nd floor of a restaurant where French Toast costs $15 seemed impossible.
But I was.
I was lucky enough that 801 had video surveillance basically pointed right at me. They called the police, who took over 25 minutes to arrive, and we reviewed the tapes.
Three men came up the stairs. The hostess said they asked her for a reservation and she said they were booked. They asked if they could sit at the bar, and she said of course. They walked up the stairs, swiped my bag…and left. Simple as that. I was not drunk, I was not being careless…they were just fast and knew exactly what they were doing in this busy restaurant. 801’s outside cameras and Town, the bar across the street, had surveillance of the three men getting into a white, unmarked van (no plates) and drive away. They would stop and spend almost 1,000 dollars on gas and trips to various CVSs and Rite-Aids across the city.
So…what do you do from there?
Here are some things I learned, and hopefully if you are ever in this situation they can help you, too.
1. Make sure someone has your keys: I live alone so keys were my first concern – how could I get in? This is my FIRST tip, especially if you live alone. Make sure your friends have spares, or at least someone in your life has spares. (Which I still haven’t done – E, I’ll get it on it ASAP)
2. Put a Family Member or Loved One on Your Cards: The second tip I was lucky enough to have already in place. Previously, I had called and set up my parents on my credit cards and debit card as able to cancel cards. This helped me immensely – with my cards swiped, my phone gone, and a frazzled mind that couldn’t remember passwords or codes it was amazing to be able to let my parents know to cancel all my cards and took that worry off my plate for the time being.
3. Make an IN-PERSON Appointment At Your Bank: I found the in-person was much more easy and straight forward than trying to handle it online/over another person’s phone. I was also able to bring the evidence and my case directly to a bank manager and my money was put back in my bank account within 3 business days. Also, I was able to pick up some much needed cash, which brings me to tip #4….
4. Don’t Travel With All Your Cards: Maybe this is obvious, but it was something I never really thought about. I had both my credit cards and my debit card in my wallet at the time. This meant I had NO cash when I was robbed, and no way to buy things. Because I got robbed on the weekend, I was doubly screwed. From now on, I’ll be traveling with one credit card only.
5. Know that the Cop You Talk to and the Detective Are VERY Different: One of the most surprising things I noticed about being robbed was the law enforcement element. I gave my statement to the cop, told him everything was missing, went over surveillance with him, went through everything missing with my bag, etc. He told me he’d relay this to a detective and that I had to come in person to pick up my police report in 1 week. About a week later, a detective finally got a hold of me and it seems like the cop didn’t tell him ANYTHING – he didn’t even know there was video surveillance! I had to go through everything again and try to re-remember all the important points. In fact, the detective even stopped by my house because he could not reach me. I was phone-less, but gave the police officer my work phone and home address. HOWEVER, the cop wrote BOTH of these contact sources down wrong, leaving the detective no way to reach me until several days after the event. So, first make sure that the cop who is taking your statement has all your information written down correctly, and secondly go home and write down everything in a notebook so you can remember and easily re-tell and re-address all salient points in the story and initial investigation – seriously, you never know how much the detective knows. The good news was my police report didn’t take a week to come in and the detective was able to send it to me via email.
6. Keep A Record & Reach Out to Everyone: E gave me this tip – but reach out to EVERY company that you had something stolen from. Although Warby Parker couldn’t give me a new pair of sunglasses, they offered $40 off on my next purchase of prescription sunglasses.
7. Go With Your Gut: There is no way around this – getting robbed is violating. I spent the night after it happened awake all night because I was terrified they would show up with my keys. However, I did want to be home and ultimately felt the most comfortable at home, despite my wonderful friends offering me a place to stay. There is no one right reaction to this kind of thing happening, so don’t worry about acting accordingly. After the event, we even stayed at the bar for one more drink and so I could calm down and figure out a game plan. I spent the rest of the weekend snuggled up with a book and a lot of peppermint cinnamon tea (which I had a lot of, thanks to a recent trip spent stocking up at Trader Joe’s). I also took Monday off from work to have my meeting at the bank and some time to get all my ducks in a row. Just because this was my reaction, doesn’t mean it has to be yours or that is right. Just listen to your head and do what is best for you to recuperate. The rest will heal with time.