Axios D.C.

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🤯 Happy Thursday! How is it already the middle of February?

🎂Happy birthday to our Axios D.C. member Jennifer O'Donnell!

Today's newsletter is 946 words — a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: 🚨 Stores fight crime

Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

As D.C. continues to struggle with crime, area stores are taking new measures to try to curtail widespread theft.

Why it matters: A spree of DMV retail thefts means empty shelves and heightened security in many stores, while residents are left frustrated and scared.

What's happening: Giant has increased store security, locked up and limited products, and, in some locations, reduced exits and started to use cameras to track items through registers, the company tells Axios.

  • It also has started receipt checks at its Alabama Ave. location in Southeast, "which has reached a threshold of theft and violence that has become unsustainable," a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Safeway has installed high-tech security gates at some of its D.C. stores, requiring customers to scan receipts before leaving.

  • Safeway confirmed in a statement to Axios that recent updates were made to some local stores to "maintain a safe and welcoming shopping experience" and "deter shoplifting."

The Capitol Riverfront BID is working with D.C. police and Navy Yard retailers and property owners to host monthly safety meetings, employ off-duty officers to patrol the area, and up security camera usage, according to a BID statement to Axios.

  • In Georgetown, businesses have hired off-duty police officers and security, and installed security cameras, says a Georgetown BID spokesperson.

By the numbers: The District saw a 39% increase in violent crime between 2023 and 2022, and a 24% increase in property crime.

Reality check: As of yesterday, D.C. violent crime and property crime are tracking slightly below the levels seen at this same time last year.

Yes, but: A slew of headline-making thefts is raising the alarm in several neighborhoods.

  • This week, a Chinatown Walgreens manager was arrested and charged with helping organize at least four armed robberies of the store since last summer, according to federal authorities, one of which resulted in a security guard shooting a suspect on Sunday.

Catch up fast: There have been reports of several recent heists at local Safeways, and a group recently used a "Jaws of Life" machine to rob ATMs at a series of stores, mostly 7-Elevens.

Full story

2. Scoop: Charles Allen forms recall resistance

Charles Allen, left, and his predecessor and mentor Tommy Wells. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images and Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

👋🏼 It's Cuneyt, with Town Talker — my column on money and power.

Ward 6 council member Charles Allen is enlisting his predecessor and longtime Capitol Hill resident Tommy Wells to fight back an effort to recall him from office.

Why it matters: Allen is taking the effort seriously, calling on his allies for support against the rare recall campaign that's raised at least $56,000 since January.

📣 What I'm hearing: Wells said he will officially form and lead a committee to fundraise and organize support for Allen starting today.

  • "This is a home rule issue. Charles was only elected a year and a half ago," Wells told me at the Hill politico spot Hawk 'n' Dove on Tuesday night. "We see this as only outside folks who want to use D.C. as a proxy for their own agenda."
  • He believes Allen has broad support across Ward 6 neighborhoods — H Street NE, Southwest, the Hill — after three consecutive election victories.

Catch up fast: A council member has never been recalled from office. The campaign was organized by Capitol Hill residents who are upset with Allen's record on criminal justice.

⚡️ The latest: Allen convened a Zoom meeting with supporters last Thursday. "I want you to know, I'm taking it seriously," Allen told the crowd, according to Wells. "And I'm going to need everyone on this call's help."

The two go way back. Wells and Allen are from the same hometown in Alabama.

  • Wells was the Ward 6 council member from 2007 to 2015.

What's ahead: The Board of Elections issued petitions on Tuesday for the recall.

Full story

3. Quote du jour: Kushner's White House pass

Jared Kushner (L) with Dan Primack at the Axios BFD conference in Miami. Photo: Ledd Villamarzo, EDIN STUDIOS

Jared Kushner said he plans to sit out a potential second Trump administration in an interview at the Axios BFD conference in Miami this week.

Why it matters: Kushner served as one of his father-in-law's top advisers for four years, but he told Axios' Dan Primack that he plans to keep working in private equity from his base in Miami even if Trump wins in November.

Yes, but: "Nothing in my life has gone according to the plans I've set," Kushner explained, before affirming that he'd say no if Trump called with a job offer.

4. Around the Beltway: Barricade aftermath

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚨 A shooter barricaded inside a Southeast D.C. home yesterday wounded three police officers, prompted nearby schools to close, and shut down roads. Officers originally went to serve an arrest warrant on animal cruelty charges when the suspect opened fire. He is in custody after a 13-hour standoff. (WTOP)

🍹 Ivy City veteran- and woman-owned distillery Bo & Ivy is calling it quits March 31, citing economic challenges. It's not all bad news: rum darling Cotton & Reed will take over the Bo & Ivy space while keeping up shop in Union Market. (Eater)

💋 We're happy to leave Valentine's Day in the rearview but please do enjoy this photo of a binturong (aka bearcat) kissing booth.

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5. Kennedy Center forest festival

"Acupunk," a fable told by giant puppets. Photo courtesy of Reach to Forest

Kennedy Center visitors can forest bathe without leaving D.C. during Reach to Forest, a two-week international festival starting on Feb. 20 that explores the relationship between humans and woodlands.

What's happening: A bunch of free programs, films, art installations, culinary experiences, and family-friendly gatherings through March 3. Highlights include:

🌳 "Tree Talks," a series that will bring together literary dynamos like Barbara Kingsolver and Richard Powers with environmental experts.

🎋 An Amazon-inspired rooftop dinner on Feb. 27 curated by chef Felipe Schaedler, who runs two award-winning restaurants in the Amazon region and another in São Paulo.

More details

😎 Anna is still riding high from getting a legit security detail (story coming).

🍿 Cuneyt is rewatching "Casino Royale."

📚 Mimi is reading Ziwe's book of essays, "Black Friend."

Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Patricia Guadalupe.