The D.C. men’s clothing store Universal Gear, which is gay owned, lost about $5,000 in merchandise on Saturday morning, March 23, in a snatch-and-grab robbery committed by two unidentified male suspects, according to store official Yemi Mengistu.
Mengistu said the incident at the upscale store at 1529 14th St., N.W., marked the fifth time it has been victimized by similar robberies since 2009. As it has since 2009, Universal Gear’s owner, David Franco, has posted on YouTube a video of the robbery in progress taken from the store’s surveillance cameras.
D.C. police have listed the incident as a robbery and assault, Mengistu told the Blade, because one of the two suspects assaulted her as she tried to stop them from leaving while they carried large quantities of clothes form the store’s racks.
Franco has urged police to assign more foot patrol officers to the 14th Street business district where Universal Gear is located as a means of deterring what he has called an ongoing series of robberies by brazen young men, some appearing to be teenagers, who have targeted his store.
Similar to the past incidents, the latest two suspects posed as customers browsing the store before grabbing merchandise and running out into a getaway car parked nearby.
The store is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any of the suspects involved in the robberies. Anyone with information about the latest or past incidents should call Universal Gear at 202-319-0136 and the D.C. police crime line at 202-727-9099.