City Desk

The Blotter: My Dog Wants Me to Call 911

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Car-B-Cue: Sarah Fairbrother and her husband, Luke Wassum, who live near the Petworth Safeway in the 3800 block of Georgia Avenue, were sitting on their porch around 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 when they heard a loud boom. Fairbrother "figured it was a truck with a dumpster, but it was really loud," she says via email. "Then the neighbor stuck her head out the door and told us that there was a car on fire out back, and that was what we had heard." The vehicle fire was in the Safeway parking lot.

Fairbrother called 911 and Wassum grabbed his camera, snapping pics (below) of the inferno; that's a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan in there. The D.C. fire department arrived a few minutes later to put out the blaze.

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Lieutenant John R. Haines said later on the MPD listserv that the van was reported stolen from the 700 block of Longfellow Street NW and that no one was injured during the fire. For more on exploding automobiles, see Cap Hill's Car-B-Cue alley.

Watch Dog: On March 1, MPD listserv poster Gwen Jenkins wrote: "My neighbor's house was apparently burglarized last night or early this morning. I noticed my gate was opened (doesn't latch, but requires a hard shove or pull) sometime after the alley became passable. My dog has been restless and worried during the 2-3 a.m. hour several times in the last week—once to the point I considered calling 911, but wasn't confident that they would take a report of 'My dog thinks he has to sit up and watch, which is uncharacteristic' very willingly."

As it turns out, it's totally cool. Call 911 if your dog's sixth sense tells you to. Contacted via email for her reading of prowler sensing dogs, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy Lanier writes: "I would recommend calling whenever you have reason to believe someone is about to or committing a crime. There are many circumstances that may bring one to believe this is the case. Bottom line, call if you feel there is a problem."

D.C. dog whisperer David Schmucker of Sidewalkdogtraining.com has some doubts, though, about a dog's ability to determine when you should call the cops. He says a dog's "nervousness could signal outside activity" but "does not necessarily indicate an intruder."

"A nervous dog could be sensing something outside that is of interest but not a threat," Schmucker explains. "Raccoons & opossums are nocturnal and forage about the same time each night. My dog Tessie will display that same behavior when she spots a squirrel in the back yard. She wants to chase it but it isn’t a threat and a loud bark would work against her attempts at stalking. So she paces. Sorry the family was burglarized but it was most likely coincidental to the dog’s behavior."

Plucked Clean: Two alleged thieves were spotted in the 4000 block of Tunlaw Road NW around 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 23 after they yanked parts from a vehicle that wasn't theirs. A witness called 911. Among the items stripped were the car hood and an air bag.

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You: A Brookland listserv poster said on Feb. 24 that her car was stripped as well—of two tires. She writes that MPD wasn't very helpful. "Just want you to be aware, last night/early morning about 1:30 my son heard a disturbance outside the house in the alley. He looked down from the third floor to see what it was and there was a silver car in the alley. He knew something was wrong so he called the police and they told him they would call back."

The poster, who identifies herself as Esther, says that her son went outside to check the situation out but that thieves had already made off with her tires. As for the cops: "The police never called back so he called them repeatedly and was put off. He said it took until 4 am for someone to get back to him and take a police report. No one even came out to see what was going on. Is this what we're paying our property taxes for?"

Fifth District Commander Lamar D. Greene responds: "The delay in this response time is unacceptable and we will find out what occurred."

The Lady Doth Protest: A thief may have been taking in some culture  on Feb. 27. A woman told police she was in the Shakespeare Theater Company's Lansburgh Theater at 450 7th St. NW  when an unknown suspect slipped her wallet from her purse. When she noticed her wallet was missing (You scullion! You rampallian!), the victim canceled her credit cards, which was a good idea: While doing so, cops say, "she was advised by her credit card company that several attempts to use her cards were made in the interim period."

Life Cut Short: On Feb. 27 at approximately 8:45 p.m police discovered Marquis Wade, 20, fatally shot in the 300 block of Parkland Place SE, where he lives. MPD says the murder case is still open and no more information is available.

Source: MPD District listservs, public releases

Photos courtesy of lwassum





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