WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Dozens of people are reporting stolen cell phones and wallets after a weekend in the District where thousands came out for various music festivals and beautiful weather.
Taking to social media, people posted videos of a woman the group accused of pickpocketing cell phones at the Something in The Water music festival. The posts have been viewed over 15,000 times.
Others are reporting their items stolen at nightclubs in the city. One woman, Alex Blackburn, said she spent her weekend trying to secure her information after someone stole her cell phone and wallet out of her purse while she was at Twelve after Twelve bar in Dupont Circle.
“All of a sudden, one of my friends said that she thinks her phone got stolen, or they tried to steal it, so we all started reaching around, looking in our bags, and my wallet and phone were both missing,” Blackburn explained. She said after realizing her things were taken. She went straight to the security team, who told her there was nothing they could do and that she needed to leave. “So, I stood outside the bar, just kind of seeing if anyone walked out with my stuff,” she explained. “What ended up happening was five people, ten people, fifteen people walked out of the bar, their phones or wallets also stolen.”
Blackburn said a bouncer told her 15 others had phones stolen the night before. But, she said, “This was a problem at their establishment, and they did nothing to mitigate it or try to prevent it the next day. Even after I came down the stairs on Saturday and told them that my stuff had been stolen, they were continuing to let people in the club and not telling them what was going on.” DC Police responded to the scene and took people’s information. At that point, Blackburn said security started checking people leaving the club, but she noted that security only checked people for about ten minutes.
None of the stolen phones or wallets were recovered that night, and Blackburn said she spent about ten hours trying to secure her accounts after. She explained, “Everything has two-factor authentication now. I couldn’t get into a lot of my accounts without access to my phone, so they were able to get access to one of my debit cards and charge almost $5,000 on it before I was able to get in.”
Others who had items stolen included two sisters visiting from Los Angeles. The two had added concerns over their things being stolen, as they worked as content creators and lost all of their work. As their wallets were stolen, they also worried about how to get on their flight back home.
Blackburn said if the pickpocketing happened at a large-scale event, she would be less surprised. However, she said she hopes people take note and remember that these are not cases of simple theft. She explained, “It’s not just mindless criminals. It’s organized. The 20 or 25 people who were victimized (Saturday) and the 15 that it happened to on Friday, all had their phones and wallets in various places on their bodies, many of which were in bags just like mine, which someone had to physically reach into and take.”
According to DC Police crime data, thefts are up to two percent, and robberies are up 33 percent. Most of the department was out of the office because of the Juneteenth holiday but will get back to DC News Now with specifics on pickpocketing later this week.
DC News Now reached out to Twelve after Twelve and the parent company, The Babylon Group, via email, phone call and text. This story will be updated when there is a response.