Carjacked at 3rd and L Sts. SE

Avid Hiker Jin Zhang Waits for News on Who Attacked Her and Stole Her Car on Dec. 18

Jin Zhang. (Courtesy DC Hiking and Backpacking Club)

A young woman preparing to lead a 19-mile hike instead ended up hospitalized on Dec. 18 after a group of men attacked her and stole her car around 9:30 p.m. on the 300 block of L Street, SE. Jin Zhang, founder and leader of DC Hiking and Backpacking Club (DC-HBC), received 12 stitches on her lip and oral surgery for two broken teeth, a broken jaw and a broken nose from blows to her head and cheek.

They took her silver Honda Civic EX with a license plate number EG2475, iPhone, wallet and hiking and paddling gear. And for Zhang, they stole her ability to do what she loves — hike.

“I have to cancel all these hiking trips or find new leaders to lead the trips,” she said. “I constantly have headaches from the blow to the back of my head. I’m not sure when I can go back and lead a hike.”

She said it may take months before she feels healed enough to venture out again.

Police don’t have any leads on the attackers, said Metro Police Detective Ray Stargel. They used Zhang’s iPhone and, working with her phone provider, she has given the detectives the phone numbers of people the criminals. The DC Department of Motor Vehicles also issued her a speeding ticket, which occurred after her attackers stole her car.

The night of the incident, Zhang parked her car by her quiet Capitol Quarter townhome neighborhood, stepped behind to check her hiking gear in the trunk and that’s when she felt a blow to her cheek. The attackers pushed her down and hit her again even as she tried to kick them. They knocked her out and drove away in her car. A neighbor called the police.

“If you look at this street you would not believe people would do this at 9:30 at night,” Zhang said, explaining how secure her neighborhood usually feels. “The street was well-lit, people were walking around.”

The DC MPD First District offered tips on how residents can guard against incidents of robbery and assault. The main preventative measure — pay attention to what’s going on around you.

  • Don’t walk alone in late hours. Walk in groups.
  • Tell people of a departure and arrival time when traveling.
  • Stay in well-lit areas.
  • Walk confidently and at a steady pace. Trust your instincts.
  • Wear loose clothing and don’t carry too many items.
  • Be aware of who is walking in front and behind you.
  • Change locks in a new home.
  • Don’t leave notes on the door of times when you’ll be gone.
  • Close shades and curtains at night. Keep doors and windows locked.
  • Report suspicious activity to the police by dialing 9-1-1.

Zhang said she hopes the police will follow up on the evidence she has provided. She suspects her attackers live across the Anacostia River because of tracking on her iPhone. She doesn’t fear walking around her streets, but stays vigilant.

“This is not as secure as most people think,” she said. “When you go out as a woman you really need to be careful and be aware of your surroundings.”