Recent Attacks on Female Runners ‘Concerning’

by ARLnow.com November 10, 2011 at 3:30 pm 10,251 86 Comments

The frequency of attacks on female joggers is becoming increasingly worrisome for one prominent member of the local running community.

Kathy Dalby, founder of the race organizing arm of Pacers Running Stores, says she’s noticing what may be an upward trend in female joggers being subject to assaults, inappropriate touching and other such attacks. Just this morning a female jogger was “mugged” in Rosslyn near Route 50, according to Dalby.

“As a running store, we are getting concerned about the number of attacks on women runners in Arlington,” she said.

The last such attack happened on Sept. 29, when a 37-year-old woman was knocked to the ground, kicked and touched in a sexual manner on Army Navy Drive in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood.

Other reported incidents include a man who exposed himself to a female jogger on Oct. 26 and a man who grabbed and kissed a jogger on the Custis Trail on April 17.

Dalby suggested that female runners protect themselves by finding a running group or by taking extra precautions when running alone.

“We advocate running with a group and not wearing headphones if by yourself,” she said.

Arlington County Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal said she hasn’t noticed any pronounced increase in assaults or sexual batteries on female joggers. She said incidents of women being touched inappropriately while jogging usually go down during cold weather months.

Flickr pool photo by Picture Prefect

  • KalashniKEV

    I advocate that ACPD pursue and capture the perpetrators.

    Their leadership may think the the county is better served by 8AM meter enforcement and the stupid Ballston sticker checkpoint, but I’d be willing to bet that a 37 year old jogger thinks differently.

    • Andy

      What, where, and when is the Ballston sticker checkpoint?

      • KalashniKEV

        Ballston entrance to 66E. That’s where at least a few ACPD officers were at 6:35AM on the morning of the attack listed above. Priorities I guess… revenue enforcement first. They don’t like to see Arlington residents on the same side of the glass.

        • Louise

          Going into the city? Aren’t those police enforcing HOV?

          • KalashniKEV

            Yeah, it’s really an HOV checkpoint… I goofed. Sticker is what they got me for once, so it’s stuck in my mind.

    • novasteve

      Is there $$$ in preventing sexual assault?

      • Cate

        You, sir, are disgusting.

        • rosslyngal

          I believe he was being sarcastic.

          • Cate

            Based on many other comments he’s made, sarcasm or not, my evaluation still stands.

          • mickey644

            Perhaps your judgement is a bit clouded with the broom you rode in on?

          • Cate

            Nah, the trip on my broom was fine. It was when it rained and I melted a little bit from the water that got me grumpy.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        What???? Huh????

      • There sure is:

        “As a running store, we are getting concerned about the number of attacks on women runners in Arlington”

        The store is concerned because if the crime rate on joggers is high, jogging will decrease and the store will lose….you guessed it…. $$$. The same will be true for any business if the overall crime rate in an area goes too high. Money loss. Too high a crime rate will depress real estate values, relating in lower tax takes….you guessed it…..$$$.

        So, you see, there is a big financial incentive for police to prevent crimes.

        Does that answer the dumb question?

      • CW

        Steve was trying to be sarcastic. The comment to which he responded was KEV’s insinutation that ACPD cares more about meter enforcement, traffic tickets, and other revenue-generation enforcement activities than about preventing actual dangerous crime such as assault. Steve was simply following this line of reasoning, asking a cynical, rhetorical question which implied that ACPD only cares about money and revenue generation.

    • Brit

      Thank you, exactly. It is sad to see Kathy’s first suggestion is common victim-blaming. The first suggestion should be to advise the muggers/molesters to stop, via increased repercussions .Women should be able to run when they want and on their own without fear of attack. Jeez.

      • CrystalMikey

        Brit, unfortunately it’s the reality of our society. No victim bashing, just the honest truth. Heck, I’m a guy and try not to run alone on these trails once it’s dark.

    • AllenB

      That’s gotta be one of the most vile posts I’ve seen here and I’ve seen a lot of garbage here. It’s one thing to disagree with policies, taxes, etc of the County – that’s fine. But you honestly think the County leadership is more concerned with collecting meter violations than catching sexual predators? You’ve really sunk to a new low. Disgusting.

      • Lou

        Does “County leadership” really have that much to do with directing the police departments priorities? I guess it would depend on what you mean by county leadership.

        I would like to think the police set their own priorities mostly unfettered by politicians.

        Not that I agree with the implication here that the police are neglecting one crime in pursuit of another. I just believe the police, like the schools, are led by experts that perform a job without having the government whisper in their ears what to do.

        • Josh S

          Well, the police are not independent of the elected leaders. They certainly can, and most likely do, pressure the police department as to how they deploy their resources.

          What a weird comment – “without having the government whisper in their ears what to do” They ARE the government.

          • STee

            Especially in Arlington – Just like any government, the departments of government work for and respond to the elected offcials.

          • Lou

            Give me an example where a politician would be more qualified to pressure the police into doing something than the actual police supervisors.

          • Josh S

            The elected officials are not supposed to be experts in the various activities of government. They are supposed to represent the will of the people, they are supposed to manage and conserve the resources (all ultimately provided by the people) of government, and they are supposed to oversee the activities of the bureaucracy with an eye toward efficient and effective operations.

            So, for example, if the citizens are in an uproar over jogging trail muggings, they might direct the police to increase patrols in those areas despite objections by police management that there really is no increased threat.

          • Lou

            I think you see my point, that the police department, starting from the chief on down, are the experts in deployment and management of their resources. They have all the data the politicians have, and the expertise to evaluate it, which the politicians lack.

          • Josh S

            I believe you didn’t read a word I wrote.

          • Lou

            Of course I did. You acknowledged that the politicians are not the experts, I agreed and pointed out that the police are.

    • Zoning Victim

      I advocate that female joggers get their CWPs so they can protect themselves from this kind of attack. Relying on the police alone isn’t going to get it done. That’s not a knock on the police; it’s just the nature of the law enforcement that they are reactionary force and can only deter crime by either being there to stop crime or punishing criminals after the fact. Since they can’t be everywhere to prevent crimes before they happen, people need to learn to take care of themselves.

  • Tom Lang

    Run with a baton?

    • KalashniKEV

      And a cheerleader costume?

      • Tom Lang

        No, police baton

        • KalashniKEV

          There’s a smaller, lighter, and more effective tool that has been invented since the stick…

  • Choogirl

    This is a shame. I frequently run alone in the mornings as I have to get my run in before work not knowing how late I will be in the office each day. It is difficult to find a group at 5 in the morning and find other runners who maintain the same pace. More lights on the running trails would probably help. The GW Pkwy and sections of the Custis Trail are pitch black.

    • a

      As a fellow female runner I would advise you never to run on a trail by yourself at night. Its practically asking to be mugged or worse – sad but true. There are several neighborhoods that are much safer, well lit and your within 10ft of the safety of a house with lights on at all times. Also cross the street if someone oncoming is at all suspicious.

      • a

        night = dark, including early morning

    • SomeGuy

      Choogirl, Pacers has morning group “Fun Runs” at 5:00ish in both Arlington and Alexandria. I don’t know your pace or your desired distances, but you might want to have a look at those. Stay safe out there!

      • CrystalMikey

        5 AM at Greenberry’s in Rosslyn/Courthouse or 5:30 at Pacers Pentagon Row.

        • Choogirl

          Thanks CrystalMikey! Do you know if it’s Monday-Friday?

          • CrystalMikey

            Greenberry’s is Tues and Thurs. Pentagon Row is Mon, Wed, and Fri.

            Oh, and you’re welcome!

  • baxter

    evan pokemoke?

  • CW

    I agree with Det. Nosel. Four incidents are unfortunate, and we should towards ZERO, but it does not a “trend” make.

  • CrystalMikey

    Such a shame, but great advice from Ms. Dalby. I highly suggest the Pacers Fun Runs from their Pentagon Row and Clarendon locations. Guaranteed group running!

  • JoggerDude

    People shouldn’t have to worry about this stuff but it is the case now.
    If possible, run with a partner and try to avoid being an “easy” target.

    Seriously, 80% of people (guys and women) all running with earphones in their own world.. If one was so inclined, it’s just waay too easy to attack. while it may not have made a difference to the people who were attacked, people need to take some responsibility for their own safety and at least take off the damned earphones.

    Lastly, I’ve got to say, since last year, the lighting on Custis SUCKS!
    I regularly run in the parks and trails in the nighttime and sometimes it is damned dark out there..

    • CrystalMikey

      At least Custis has lighting…no such luck on Mt. Vernon.

    • drax

      The Custis, like other parks and trails, are closed after dark.

  • JimPB

    Carry a can of spray red paint. The spray can both deter and mark a perp.

    • CW

      And, as a bonus, you get to make friends with the cops as they question you about every new piece of graffiti that shows up!!

    • Or better yet

      A stun gun. They make some tiny but powerful ones. Better than nothing. (No one is going to carry a heavy, rattling can of paint, but I think you know that.)

      • Thes

        Was that what happened to this guy?

    • KalashniKEV

      In case he’s into body painting???

    • JaguarPaw

      I reccomend the ladies look into Curare-laced nail polish. One scratch and the perp is down.

  • novasteve

    You people do realze that unless you wind up in DC somehow, you have a right to carry here in VA, right? Or do you feel safer knowing that you are unarmed and arlington police are inspecting for tax and safety inspection stickers?

    • Louise

      Novasteve, are you suggesting that we all start carrying guns while we run? Seriously?

      I run: during the day, without headphones, WITH my big dog.

    • You are saying jog with a firearm strapped to your side in a holster? In your hand?

    • CW

      I am not at all opposed to open carrying, but the odds of someone “Plaxico Burressing” themselves would likely be higher than the odds of them being attacked in the first place.

      • novasteve

        Not if you know proper gun usage. You’ll also be keeping it in a fanny pack. I doubt what you describe has ever happend the the MANY MANY people in law enforcement who carry that way.

      • Zoning Victim

        This is complete crap perpetuated by the anti-gun lobby. I can’t believe that anyone who isn’t opposed to open carry would spread this kind of propaganda. There are plenty of training courses around for people who are not experienced with firearms. Of course, even people who have been around firearms all of their lives should take at least one self-defense course since target shooting and using a firearm for self-defense are very different things. Anyone can learn to safely handle a gun and defend themselves. Florida alone has issued over two million CWPs; if your statement had any basis in fact, there’d be a whole lot of people limping around in this country.

        Criminals prey on the weak. If a jogger was openly carrying, I seriously doubt anyone would give them a reason to remove their weapon from its holster. It’s a lot easier to just wait for an easy victim.

        • novasteve

          The realistic situation will be that they have the gun in a fanny pack, not a holster. Not every attacker will realize there’s a gun inside, like most people don’t realize that if you see a person who doesn’t look like a tourist with a fanny pack, it’s likely a cop. Perahps if it had a giant NRA on the fanny pack, they might realize what’s in it.

        • KalashniKEV

          ZV, thank you for this post. It’s unfortunate that otherwise intelligent people become consumed with emotion over this issue. Observations:

          1) I personally believe in CCW over open carry, not just of the social climate here, but because other than deterring crimes of opportunity, you will make yourself a target when serious crime goes down.
          2) There are 80 million American gun owners, most of whom you would never know. To bring up “Thug Life” when discussing women’s self defense is actually quite ridiculous. I can’t even think of a good analogy. Perhaps discouraging someone from obtaining a license to drive because Princess Di was killed in a car wreck while being pursued by stalkerazzi?
          3) I don’t think it’s a mental deficiency, but an more of a mental roadblock that has been installed by the nanny state when we see people talking about carrying sticks, stun guns, spray paint… does anyone really think it’s logical for a female jogger to close with the threat and engage him hand-to-hand? Has anyone ever taken a self defense course where they discussed the “Projectile Range?” I’m curious because a lot of the Martial Arts based courses skip logic and substitute their own Kung Fu fantasy- often to the great detriment of their students…

          • Zoning Victim

            “I personally believe in CCW over open carry”

            I agree and did not mean to come off as supporting open carry over CCW. That said, most joggers don’t wear enough clothing to conceal much of anything, and a fanny pack with several pounds of steel and led in it would really suck to run with; you’d get beaten to death from it bouncing up and down; same with any open carry type of holster. If you’re being mugged instead of sexually assaulted, the fanny pack will be the attacker’s first grab, too. There are better options out there.

            “substitute their own Kung Fu fantasy”

            Haha, thanks for the laugh.

          • CW

            Gosh, I didn’t mean for this to rile up so many people. If this is how you respond to people who say they’re pro-second-amendment, I’d hate to see how you respond to people who oppose your views.

            I was simply joking about the potential consequences of all that jostling and bumping and bouncing around with a gun in a holster. That’s all.

          • CW

            Although, Kev, to expound upon your specific point, while defending one’s self at a distance with a projectile weapon is obviously superior to closing within striking range, the pure nature of these assaults, if you read the accounts, is that the victim is surprised by an attacker that jumps out and is thus instantly within the range of hand-to-hand. If the victim could open up sufficienct distance to draw and, if necessary, fire, then that’s one thing, but when you go from being alone and all well to suddenly being in the grasp of an attacker, I think that is where one sees the appeal of something that can be used at close quarters. Preferrably something sharp.

          • KalashniKEV

            I can write very lengthy responses on this topic. 🙂

            I’ll just say:

            1) People should stay alert and maintain situational awareness at all times (Life Rule #1)
            2) “Closing distance” and “Creating space” are complex topics that can be discussed at length. It comes down to this- get yourself in a position that favors YOU. In this case hand to hand usually doesn’t- so bludgeoning/ stun gun/ blade play fantasies? Those typically don’t yield a high percentage of success.
            3) “Preferrably something sharp” [sic] Gender issues aside, not a lot of people have it inside them to slash and stab another human being. I personally cringe at the thought.

          • KalashniKEV

            “several pounds of steel and led” [sic]

            Most quality CCW pieces in a substantial caliber weigh about a pound and a half loaded. I don’t carry while jogging, but I just remembered that my father has a neoprene belly band holster that would be quite suitable for this application, and wouldn’t bounce much. You’d burn some extra calories too!

            For OC, as you mentioned, there’s always this rig…

          • Chris

            Just ridiculous. Yeah, this is exactly what we need, a bunch of hotheads running around with this strapped to their chest.

          • Zoning Victim

            Yeah Chris, you’re probably right. What we really need is a lot more willing victims.

          • KalashniKEV

            What’s with the “hothead” comment? Are you some kind of macho man? This is a viable rig, and VA State legal for any citizen of the commonwealth. No permit required.


          • novasteve

            Problem is if you openly carry, despite it being your right to do so, every police officer who sees you, especially here in a liberal area, will approach you with guns drawn. You need to conceal carry.

          • Chris

            False dichotomy, ZV.

          • KalashniKEV

            I’ve OC’d back and forth to the range a few times and around my block and ACPD hasn’t drawn down on me yet. It is not my preference though.

          • drax

            We have a bunch of hotheads going around attacking women, Chris.

          • KalashniKEV

            “every police officer who sees you, especially here in a liberal area, will approach you with guns drawn.”

            FALSE. Hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve only OC’d on my block though, headed to the range, and don’t really make a habit of it. I kind of look like a cop though, I guess.

  • runner

    If you are a runner, you know it’s hard enough carrying a key and an ID. Now I’m supposed to carry a gun, taser, pepper spray and a can of spray paint? I guess I’m in the market for a good running backpack. (Or the county can pay for better lighting and patrols by police and/or I can suck it up and run in the daylight where there’s other people around or on a treadmill at the gym.)

    • novasteve

      Fanny pack.

      • Chris

        Steve you obviously aren’t a runner. Fanny pack is not a viable option. Stick to the smoking and transmissions expert testimony.

        At least KalashniKEV is providing viable, if ridiculous, suggestions.

        • KalashniKEV

          Fanny pack is quite a viable option. In fact, if you’re going to carry as much as a cell phone plus your keys, it might be the most viable option… they make ones that are quite slim and don’t move around. Are you picturing one with dual water bottle holders or something?

          • Chris

            Yeah, you are right. Go for it Mr. Perry.

  • Arlingtron

    As a regular bike rider on Arlington trails I must say that there are some female joggers that put themselves at risk. Jogging alone, headphones in both ears, in the dark, etc. It may be difficult to carry but a phone and defensive gear (pepper spray, whistle, etc.) but should be done. A gun may be excessive but if trained and licensed that is your option. Others on the trail should be alert and communicate suspicious activity. I ride with my mobile phone always. Joggers should avoid the trail when dark and use areas with better lighting and more people such as commercial areas.

  • Laope

    Bra holster, that will take care of them.


  • mickey644

    A concealed carry permit and a Taurus “Judge” does wonders for your jog in the morning. The weight enhances your muscle tone in each arm as you shift the piece from hand to hand and you hardly notice the recoil after you squeeze off a few .410 shotgun shells into the perp. It’s amazing what a bit of exercise will do to “make your day”. Happy Hunting, Ladies!!

  • Josh S

    Of course all of this discussion sort of depends on what, exactly, the threat is. As the police are quoted here, they don’t recognize there being any particular trend towards increased assaults. Anecdotal evidence should not be used by anyone to promote or make such a dramatic step as carrying a gun whenever you choose to go for a run. And certainly not over such a short time frame as we are looking at. Random events do sometimes bunch and make it look as if something dramatic is happening. Doesn’t mean it is.

    • CW

      You mean we shouldn’t all organized ourselves into well-armed jogging militias in response to four assaults over a year-long period in a county of 200,000 people? Are you saying that would be an overreaction? /s

  • YTK

    Jog on County paths (and take precautions) or on school tracks, not the sidewalk– sidewalks are for pedestrians.

    • etoiledamour

      By definition a pedestrian is anyone traveling on foot, including walkers and runners. The key is to share sidewalk. For walkers, this means staying to one side and not taking up the entire sidewalk if you’re walking in groups. For runners, this means passing on the left and giving notice that you’re approaching.

  • Kyle

    Do you really expect every mile of every trail in the area to be patrolled? Are you Arlington white people really this insular and oblivious?

  • djs735

    Last Saturday during my long run, I had a close incident where I could been attacked….
    I was running from Ballston to Georgetown on last Saturday (2/11/12), I was on the way back home about lee hwy close to courthouse, this guy stopped me and was asking me for a direction. He said that he couldn’t remember where he parked!
    It was around 2:30-3pm, and I passed few runners that day but when I looked around that specific incident there were nobody around us.
    I just told him he needs to head back to Georgetown. He kept on trying to continue the conversation, I was getting annoyed but didn’t suspect anything till he said “btw, I like your running tights. Where do you get them? can I take a pic of it?”
    I was starting to feel weird about this guy and decide to leave but he kept on talking. Finally, there was another runner approaching us and I excused myself, he saw the other runner approaching and then he let me go.

    I was feeling so disturbed and I didn’t took the trail back home. I stayed on the road the whole time.


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