City Desk

WUSA9 Van Robbed in Allegedly Sketchy Neighborhood Had $600 Louis Vuitton Wallet, $3,500 Chanel Bag

Screenshot 2014-08-12 at 8.13.47 AM

Call it irony, or call it bad karma, or simply call it lousy luck. But a WUSA9 crew is out thousands of dollars after it tried reporting last Friday on an offensively stupid new app that crowdsources information from users to determine which neighborhoods and streets are "sketchy" and presumably should be avoided.

Not far into Friday, the day the SketchFactor app launched, Petworth neighborhood had already started to get a bad rap. People reported it was a dangerous neighborhood with crime, that and it wasn't safe to walk alone.

So the intrepid WUSA9 crew went to Petworth around 7 p.m. to find out about the neighborhood firsthand. But as they were on the scene, their 2006 White Ford van—parked near the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro station at the intersection of 9th Street and Rock Creek Church Road NW—was robbed.

"I'm not going to call it a sketchy neighborhood, but as folks were telling us, you know, it was a good neighborhood, and not much activity happens around there, as that was being told to us, our van was being robbed," reporter Mola Lenghi said on-air as he reported on his stuff being stolen out of the locked van.

According to the police report of the incident, the crew had tens of thousands worth of property sitting in the van, including a $600 red Louis Vuitton wallet, a $3,500 black Chanel bag, $18,000 worth of Dell laptops, a $200 Go Pro camera, an iPad, iPhone, keys, credits cards, and other equipment. The crew, which consisted of Lenghi, a camera man, and an intern, were ultimately able to track down much of their goods through the stolen iPhone's GPS and located it in what Lenghi described as "another sketchy neighborhood."

"It led us to a couple of dumpsters in another sketchy neighborhood—will give the eyeball test, you don't need an app to tell you that all the time; we're not going to tell you which neighborhood that was—but it's the type of neighborhood where stolen goods get dumped," Lenghi said on air.

Theft is, of course, a crime and not something anyone wants in their neighborhoods. But don't let the incident give too much credence to SketchFactor. After all, submissions to the app describe the activity near the Shaw Metro stop—a station flanked by a gourmet muffin shop!—as "large groups of natives causing a ruckus in the CVS parking lot near the bus stop. They drink and smoke. It is scary and uncalled for." And as WAMU has reported, pranksters have started inputting mock hysterical reports of danger, making it even harder to determine what to take seriously on SketchFactor.

Due to an editing error, the headline of this story originally said that the van was stolen; it was broken into.

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  • I’m going there

    Truth hurts, man. Stop trying to rationalize deliquient behavior.

  • Jimbo

    So they left about $30,000 in plain view and are surprised that it got stolen in the city? What a bunch of yokels.

  • Juana

    Is "intern" a new euphemism for hooker?

  • arf

    So, being a total sexist, I assume that this intern had a $3,500 Chanel bag and $600 wallet as there's a woman who's not the reporter or the cameraman in the shot and it was a crew of 3, and men don't buy that kind of stuff.

    Anybody know an intern with that kind of cash or stuff? I think of my family income as pretty good, but would never even CONSIDER buying anything that cost that much, and if my wife found out I bought her anything that cost that much, she would return it immediately.

    Maybe that's what internships do with their low or nonexistent pay - make only the insanely rich able to become interns.

  • Typical DC BS

    @Jimbo - Yup. Learned that lesson at someone else's expense in Chicago and here in DC by DuPont Circle - dont' leave valuables in PLAIN SIGHT on a city street ANYWHERE.

  • Redline SOS

    "I'm not going to call it a sketchy neighborhood, but some jerks broke into my work vehicle and stole all our stuff."

  • Local

    Muffins have not solved the Shaw's problems. SketchFactor comment about Shaw metro is dead-on. Its a long-time heroin market. Occasionally crew violence breaks out into shooting in broad daylight like so:

  • Oz

    Only "interns" with "parents" who have the resources and values to fund this kind of nonsense ever get dates, oops I mean internships, at places like WUSA.

    Maintaining the bleach job probably costs 600 a month. The apartment is probably another 3 grand, all this on an unpaid internship. Old Town is probably considered sketchy unless it's gated.

  • DRR lists area as sketchy and they get robbed. My area isn't listed as sketchy and I often leave stuff in my car with the doors unlocked and never had a problem. So far, the app is batting 100. And check the MPD crime maps...the areas the app lists as "sketchy" are not areas I'd want my little sister walking home alone drunk at 1:00am.

  • Derek

    I don't see why luxury stuff stolen has anything to do with it, or why this app is "offensive". Oh wait! Perry Stein always has to drop her personal political diatribes into everything she writes! (see her very offensive post about Reston).

  • maktoo

    "large groups of natives causing a ruckus in the CVS parking lot near the bus stop. They drink and smoke. It is scary and uncalled for."

    - Wait, is someone supposed to take this seriously? And yes, Petworth has issues, as does Shaw. But who leaves valuables lying around in any vehicle these days? Good grief - that could just as easily happen in a mall parking garage or in Georgetown. Meh.

  • Corky

    This same thing happens in sketchy neighborhoods like Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Georgetown, Penn Quarter, Tenleytown, you name it. If you leave valuables in plain sight in a car, there is a good chance that someone will break in and steal them. If you think that happens only in Ivy City, I have a bridge to sell you.

  • Dumb

    My neighbor has had stuff stolen from her parked car in Cleveland Park multiple times. Let's label it sketchy!

    Instead, let's call the app - Where NOT to go if you have no Street Smarts or Common Sense.

  • Local

    Shooting 1700 block 7th St, one block south of gourmet muffin shop....

  • Local