The 14th Street NW clothing store, Universal Gear, was robbed by thieves for the third time since December on Saturday, March 23. The two suspects entered the store at 11:45 am and left with merchandise less than two minutes later. The store manager was assaulted and suffered a sprained arm.
Video footage of all three incidents are on the store’s YouTube page; the store was also the victim of thieves on December 17 and January 10.
According to owner David Franco,when the store was robbed in 2010 the store’s security camera footage went viral and several suspects were arrested. “Unfortunately, when the suspects were brought to the court hearing, the DC Police investigator did not show up and the suspects were set free.”
Franco said his store has been robbed seven times since 2009. “Beat patrols should be the number one priority for our police,” said Franco. “I have said this time and time again.”
Franco is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Saturday’s suspects. Contact him by email, info[AT]universalgear.com, or call 202-319-0136.
Attracting Retail to Area
Franco also brought up the claims being by some supporters of a liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U corridor. “Some people are saying that too many bars are preventing more retailers from opening in the area. That’s not true. The fact, that no one wants to talk about, is that shoplifting/robbery is a serious problem for retailers in the area… if you want more retailers you need to make it safe for them, their staff and their shoppers.
“If we have more beat cops on patrol, I think many of these thieves would think twice before shoplifting, or committing a violent crime. We’re at the end of our rope! I’m tired of hearing debates on funding more police… my message to the mayor and council: ‘just do it,'” said Franco.
Universal Gear was formerly located at 17th and Q Streets NW before moving to 14th Street, just south of Q Street.
Foot Patrols on 14th and U Corridor
What is the current foot and bike patrol presence on the 14th and U corridor?
MPD Third District Commander Jacob Kishter said, “There are usually foot patrols on the beat during all three shifts, as well as mountain bike and segway patrols. On the weekends and during nightlife hours there are additional foot officers assigned to the area. The number of officers varies depending on manpower. There is a minimum of one officer on the day and evening shifts and up to 10 on weekends on U Street between 9th and 14th Streets NW.”
Since March 6, 2009, there have been 3 commercial robberies in the 1700 block of Columbia Road, NW, during the daytime hours. (There were initial reports of a 4th robbery at the Crumbs and Coffee shop , however that was determined not to have been a robbery.) Two of the cases involved a lone suspect and one involved 3 gunmen. I have deployed footbeat and bicycle officers to Columbia Road. In addition, I have reached out to our Special Operations Division to increase traffic enforcement in the area. This will add visibility and deter the criminal element from coming to the area.