A local news crew in Washington, D.C. was robbed Wednesday morning just yards away from a press conference where the city’s mayor and police chief were outlining their plans to fight robbery.
The ABC 7 news crew parked their car just 100 feet away from the location of the press conference. Thieves broke into it and stole an unknown amount of camera equipment, the station reports.
According to reporter Stephen Tschida, the car was parked within view of Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier as they announced a new robbery task force aimed at combating a rise in robberies seen across the city.
Bowser, Lanier and a gaggle of other police officers and city officials gathered in front of the Eastern Market Metro station to make public news of the task force that will respond in real-time to robbery sprees in progress.
The area around the Metro stop where Bowser called the press conference has been particularly hard hit by the rise in robberies. (RELATED: Americans Live In Fear Just Blocks From US Capitol)
According to Bowser, the large majority of robberies are committed by a small group of repeat offenders who target specific neighborhoods where they “go on sprees” and rob several people over the course of a single night.
“We know that a small number of repeat offenders target our neighborhoods and commit robberies,” Bowser said. “This task force will help focus our efforts to find these criminals, prosecute them and get them off our streets.”
The task force will employ criminal research specialists to identify trends in robberies and then relay that information to officers on the street who can respond and intercept the criminals committing ongoing robberies.
Officers will be positioned around the city who are free to move and aren’t assigned to a particular district. The officers, Lanier said, are working with members of the Metro Transit Police Department to quickly identify suspects moving around the city on public transportation.
“We know where to focus — where to put our efforts,” she told reporters. “This team has already been successful and we are going to continue to drive down robberies.”
Lanier said the task force began operating Dec. 11 and made its first arrest the following day when it caught a man who allegedly robbed two banks in the Northwest quadrant of the city.
Since then, according to Lanier, the taskforce has made more than six arrests across the city.
Bowser said the city saw a 5 percent increase in robberies in 2015, though she was quick to add that the number is below the historical average. Overall, the city saw a 4 percent decline in all crime, she said.
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Image via Twitter of Stephen Tschida reporting hand injury from the incident.