Crime is so bad in DC that Congress is distributing tips to avoid being carjacked in capital

The District of Columbia is currently struggling to contend with a surge in criminal activity that has many questioning the safety of living in the city at all. Compared to this point in 2022, homicides are up 28% and on pace to reach their highest levels in more than 20 years.

Published: September 18, 2023 11:00pm

Updated: September 18, 2023 11:15pm

House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, (R-Wis.) on Monday warned would-be visitors to Washington, D.C. of rising crime in the nation's capital and advised people how to respond to criminal acts and to minimize the risk of being victimized by violence like carjackings.

The District of Columbia is currently struggling to contend with increased criminal activity that has many questioning the safety of living in the city at all. Compared to this point in 2022, data from the D.C. Metropolitan Police shows that homicides are up 28% and on pace to reach their highest levels in more than 20 years. Robberies, meanwhile, are up 67%. Residents have testified to increasingly driving for short distances due to fear of going outside.

Amid the crime wave, the Mexican consulate in Washington, D.C., has warned its citizens that "The city of Washington, D.C. is experiencing a significant increase in crime in areas previously considered safe. Take precautions. In an emergency, call 911."

In response to the troubling trend, Steil convened a safety meeting on Monday with both Capitol and Metropolitan Police in attendance. During the proceedings, a pair of Capitol Hill staffers recounted an instance in which they were mugged.. The meeting produced a litany of recommendations for staffers to contend with the jump in crime. 

Recommendations included not wearing jewelry on public transportation and leaving no valuables visible within one's parked car to avoid attracting thieves.

To limit more aggressive incidents such as carjacking and armed robbery, some suggested leaving space between cars at red lights should one need to flee. Minimizing time using a mobile phone while walking to limit distractions was also suggested.

"It's so concerning... to think in a city of just over 500,000 people that 5,000 cars have been stolen already this year," Steil said during a Monday appearance on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "[T]hat's 20 to 25 a day. Seven hundred of those have been the result of carjackings, where people are viciously thrown out of their cars and thrown out into the streets as the criminals drive away."

"It's unfortunate, but it's also true that the advice that was given today included telling people to give space between their car and the car in front of them when they pull up to a stop sign or a stoplight so they can make an evasive maneuver if they have to," he added. "That's how out of control crime is in Washington, D.C., and it's not only carjackings, and car thefts, but we're seeing it with assault with burglary, robbery, murder."

The congressman said the crime wave is forcing Capitol police to protect against street crimes instead of guarding the home of Congress.

"There's no sign that this crime is slowing down. If you want to know what happens in our nation's largest cities under complete Democratic control, look no further than your nation's capital, crime is spiking," Steil said.

"And so what we did today was [hold] a briefing and did a couple of things. One, we provided the kind of the tools in the toolkit that people who visit Washington, D.C. ... need to know to make sure that they're keeping themselves safe in a period of time of such high crime" he added.

Steil went on to remind people Congress's override of D.C. criminal code reform laws that would have lessened the penalties for violent crimes and eliminated most mandatory sentences. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) vetoed the measure, but the City Council overruled her, which forced Congress to intervene.

"But as we look back to earlier in the year, we actually nullified 2022 law that would have made the crime policies in Washington, D.C., even worse, many of my Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives voted against that," Steil said. "But crime is so bad in Washington, D.C., that at the end of the day, Joe Biden found himself forced to vote with us."

The Senate voted 81-14 in favor of the penalty-lessening plan. The GOP-led House in February passed the block by a 250-173 margin. President Joe Biden ultimately signed a measure to block the reforms.

"This crime is so out of control, liberal President Joe Biden was embarrassed into nullifying the D.C. City Council on the D.C. mayor's bill that would have been soft on crime," Steil said. "But I think what we need to do is potentially go a step further. Why? Because Capitol Police resources are being used to address street crime rather than their true mission of safeguarding the Capitol... [W]e're finding out that we're having to do a lot of the street crime work that the Metropolitan Police Department should do. Why? The direct result of the liberal policies of D.C.'s local city government."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News