Some of Washington, D.C.,’s most vibrant neighborhoods, destinations for suburbanites, barhoppers, and urban professionals, have the highest concentrations of holdups in the city. reports the Washington Post. On Friday and Saturday nights, the city can register as many as five robberies each hour. Guns are involved in at least one-third of the cases. About the same percentage end with victims being beaten or slammed to the ground — even knocked unconscious. The number of robberies jumped last year and was rising again this summer when D.C. police stepped up patrols and began putting surveillance cameras in neighborhoods. It has tapered off since the city spent about $10 million on overtime for extra police coverage. But overtime funds are running dry, raising concerns that more trouble is ahead.
Robberies have spiked in recent years in many parts of the nation, as the number of juvenile offenders and the availability of guns grows. Robberies are becoming the crime of choice for some former drug dealers, who have switched to stickups after police crackdowns on narcotics trafficking. There are more robberies per capita in Washington than in New York, Los Angeles, and other large cities. Police Chief Charles Ramsey worries about the potential for lethal violence. “It can quickly escalate to a shooting or homicide if the victim resists or if the robber is jumpy,” he said. The situation is worse than two years ago but much better than in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the city was averaging almost 20 robberies a day. Said Ramsey: “Robbery is a good indicator of violence on our neighborhood streets,” and it “provokes a great deal of fear.”