WASHINGTON — A woman from the District is urging people to think smart and not let their guards down after a dangerous encounter outside her Northwest business.
Rudina Ismalaj suffered minor bruises after a car thief took off with her vehicle and dragged her in the process.
The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. near 9th and U streets on Black Friday. She recently shared her experience on Nextdoor this week after she obtained surveillance video from a nearby store.
"I don't know if I was scared because I was more in disbelief," Ismalaj, who owned Urge4Beauty Boutique, told WUSA9. "I was in shock. I couldn't believe it happened."
Ismalaj admitted to double parking and leaving her car door running and unlocked to quickly pick up an item from her salon. She said she was inside for a few minutes when a man is captured arriving by an electronic bike.
The individual is seen on surveillance cameras walking up to the car and peering into the tinted windows before he sat inside. Ismalaj assumed she was about to get a traffic ticket at first.
"I went to the passenger side and opened the door and put my foot inside," she recalled. "I thought maybe the guy got confused. I said, 'What are you doing, this is my car. What are you inside for?'"
She claimed the man told her to get out before he ran her over.
"He hit the gas and put the car on drive and kind of rolled me and dragged me a few feet," Ismalaj said.
DC Police said they eventually found the car unoccupied in the 1800 block of L Street in Northeast. The only item missing was her AirPods.
Following the incident, Ismalaj said it was another confirmation of why she decided to close her business at the location. She felt the area was too busy and unsafe for a beauty salon.
She wanted to share her experience to remind people to leave their car doors locked and remove valuable items. The biggest takeaway for her is to be aware of your surroundings.
"The holiday season, some people are happy or angry and some people need things more than others, so, just a hectic time for everyone," she added. "You need to be more careful even though you may have good intentions because others don't."
Per crime data from the District, the number of motor vehicle theft has slightly increased by 4% from the year before. Theft from auto has seen a slight decrease compared to 2021.
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