WASHINGTON – Immigrant construction workers are the target of a wave of armed robberies across the district.
These thefts and sometimes assaults specifically target Latino construction workers. And many workers who may be undocumented are too scared to even report these incidents to the police.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) tells FOX 5 it’s terrifying for these workers – it’s their livelihood – they just go to work and never thought they’d have a target on their backs.
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MPD officer Jose Gonzalez Tirado says the thieves are looking for cash that they know many of these construction workers are carrying.
“Imagine if you go to a construction site, you rob 3-4 people, and you get 4 cell phones, and you’ll probably get a couple hundred dollars in cash,” he says.
The thieves apparently inspect the site, see how many workers are there, then return armed and with other people.
There have been over 100 incidents since last fall. In January, the MPD arrested Antonio Ussery, 26, of southeast DC
Police say Ussery shot a construction worker and could be linked to 20 other robberies. There are a number of active investigations underway at this time.
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MPD and the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs have since launched a campaign to educate the Latino community about their rights and the importance of calling the police when they need help.
“Don’t be afraid of law enforcement. Call 911 if you are the victim or witness to the victim of the crime,” says Officer Gonzalez Tirado. “We will not share information with immigration authorities. DC is a sanctuary city. And we are here to help.”
Constable Gonzales adds that if you are a victim or witness of such theft, it is important to get a good description, possibly a car or bike involved, whether the suspects have tattoos, facial hair , any details that may help the police.