According to an in-depth feature by Allison Klein of the Washington Post, the District of Columbia has experienced a major increase in burglaries and thefts while there been a reduction in incidents of violent crimes such as robbery, and guns or weapons offenses. Specifically, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) is reporting a 20 percent increase in burglaries and a 23 percent increase in theft in Washington, DC. In Dupont Circle, burglaries are up threefold compared to last year at this time.
Many of the thefts involve personal property such as cell phones, iPads, and laptops being stolen right off the table at coffee shops and restaurants in the Washington, DC area. The burglaries generally involve thieves smashing in back windows or doors, running in, grabbing anything they can sell and running out. They are not exactly an elaborate and well-planned heists.
As a Washington, DC theft charges lawyer, I often talk to with prospective clients who do not realize how serious the consequences may be for what many consider a minor theft charge. With respect to the criminal penalties, if the stolen property is under $1,000 in value, DC law defines the crime as a misdemeanor theft or "second degree theft" punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the value of the property is $1,000 or greater, it is a first degree felony theft charge punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
In addition to the criminal penalties for theft under Washington, DC criminal law, theft is considered a "crime of moral turpitude." In other words, it's a crime that can make you look like a dishonest person. A conviction for a moral turpitude offense can make it very difficult to get a job, especially one that involves handling money. If you have a theft conviction, you may want to look into having your Washington, DC criminal record expunged/sealed.