It's the crime that will define this summer: street robberies targeting young people and smartphones. It has been happening all across the city. Dozens reported, and no doubt, many individual thieves.
But it seems one roving gang of phone snatchers has been particularly violent - with two victims beaten and robbed on the same Capitol Hill street - just days apart.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says the two assaults may be connected.
"What makes them stand out is that the vast majority of all of our robberies are just simply snatching somebody's property and running," Lanier told FOX 5 News. "There's not this type of assault. So in both of these cases, the disturbing thing is that the victims were assaulted in the way that they were. So obviously we're looking to see if they're connected. We don't know that they are right now."
A 26-year-old political journalism intern from Utah, Casey Adams, says he was ambushed by two men around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday while on a sidewalk talking to his wife on his smartphone.
"And immediately, (he) punched me and knocked me down," says Adams. "My phone fell out of my hand. Quickly, he said, 'Give me the phone. Empty your pockets."'
Adams says they didn't take his wallet. Detectives later told him somebody saw what happened.
"The witness said that after they had knocked me down and gotten my phone from me," Adams told us. "They hopped into the back of a car and they sped away."
The attack along North Carolina Avenue near Eastern Market was just blocks from where another man, TC Maslin, was robbed and savagely beaten late one night last month.
Police have released surveillance video from that first attack, showing a 2005 Hyundai Sonata being driven by people using victim Maslin's credit card soon after he was robbed.
"I will tell you we've gotten a lot of tips from the community," Chief Lanier explains. "So that's really going to be the key now, trying to work the investigative side of this and pull together those pieces to close these cases. But I tell you what ... we're looking for these guys and when we get them ... we're going to go after them as hard as we can."
She means with a tough prosecution.
In the meantime, Maslin remains hospitalized, but we're told his condition is improving.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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