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Robbed in Georgetown, Part I: The Hit

The alley on Saturday night was serene. Pristine. As beautiful as an alley can be.

Surrounded by the homes of Senators, authors, and former Cabinet officials -- seemingly worlds away from the noise and bustle of M Street -- the alley seemed the perfect place to unload a few armloads of suits, pants and shirts into a new home. I was finally moving in to my new place in Georgetown. There was a spring in my step as I whisked the last effects, for this night, into the house. The first books, the first framed photos. A set of sheets.

Looking around the lovely rooms one last time, I took a deep breath of the smell of orange, vanilla, and old hardwood floors, and switched off all the lights. Practically skipping back to the car, I reached the gate and stopped dead. Something was wrong.

My car doors all stood agape. A police car was backing out of the alley. In a crushing second I new something was wrong. The car was empty. My purse wasn't there.

"Hey!" I called, "HEY!" I ran toward the police car. Was this a joke? He has my purse, I thought. This officer took it out of my car as a warning, or to demonstrate my negligence. I'll get a lecture.

"Officer, do you have my purse?" I sounded a little frantic, skipping the niceties. He rose out of his car.

"Ma'am, you left your car doors open," he said.

"I know. Right. Do you have my purse?" My heart got louder.

"Ma'am, I just closed your doors. You left your car door open," he said again. "I closed them."

I knew that. Why was he repeating it? "I left the car for five minutes. My purse was in there! Everything, my car keys, my phone and blackberry. My wallet, credit cards. My checkbook. A camera. Everything!"

He shook his head. He sighed and shook his head again.

Oh, no, I thought, the first wave of dread hitting me.

It was 10:30 on a clear Saturday night...

Robbed in Georgetown is a multi-part series describing a frequent crime in an unexpected place. Tomorrow: Begging taxi drivers and tow truckers.