Friday, November 19, 2010

Anyone Home?

From Alex:
I had my iPhone ripped out of my hand while I was on a Branch Ave. train the other night about 9 p.m. It happened in the Columbia Heights station. The person ran at me, grabbed the phone and got off the train before I could follow him.

This happens, I understand. My issue is how long it took WMATA to respond.

There was nobody staffing the booth. I waited for 10, maybe 15 minutes before someone gave me a phone so I could call Metro Police. By then, this a**hole was probably on the other side of the city.

When Metro Police came, about 15 minutes later, the officer asked for a description of the robber. I told him what I remembered -- but it happened in all of 5 seconds. Another rider had seen the incident, and I had their phone number. I offered it to the officer, but he declined.

I pointed to the four security camera screens in the booth and said (twice) "Can we look on there because I'm pretty sure [the cameras] caught him?"

The officer never directly responded to me about the cameras. I think that by the time they arrived, they knew the chances of catching the robber were slim at best.

My issue is not with the how the police handled the situation. It was already too late to do anything. Theft happens.

But had the booth be manned, had there been security on the Metro platform or at the station entrance, then perhaps someone could have stopped this thief.

And what if I had been injured during this incident? How long would it have taken to get help if I'd been bleeding or something?
Rider Peter shares a story about how riders intervened, in the absence of Metro employees, to interrupt an attempted purse snatching yesterday morning at Gallery Place.
I was about 20 feet from action, so didn't see the actual snatching, but I did see part of the pursuit.

I was coming off the Green Line on the lower platform and saw two people sprinting toward the escalator that goes up to the Glenmont side of the Red Line platform.

One started yelling "purse, she stole my purse."

The thief ran up the down escalator because the up escalator was already packed.

There was a male rider at the top of the escalator who heard the calls and confronted the thief.

When I made it to the top, he had the purse and had been joined by one or two others.

There didn't seem to be any real fight put up.

At that point, the victim was yelling for police, but there didn't happen to be any.

There were no WMATA folks in vicinity either, nor did I see any heading to that platform.

I think the thief just ran away.

I didn't get a good look at her (I think it was woman, not positive). I have no idea if the victim reported the incident to Metro or not.

The good news is that riders stepped up and got the purse back; the bad news that the purse snatcher wasn't dealt with by authorities and is still, presumably, out there.

Other items:
SmartBenefits changes could have major impact (WMATA) Examiner take
Another case of Metro not coming clean? (Examiner)
Sarles: Not replacing escalators (WaPo)
Metro's long-range planning office launches blog
(via @vebah)
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