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After three women around Dupont Circle were mugged for their phones last week, the Guardians Angels have started patrolling the area, WTOP reports. But John Ayala, the D.C. chapter leader for the Angels, tells City Desk that standoffish pedestrians are making it harder to get the word out.

In addition to spooking potential robbers, Ayala and his colleagues are trying to pass out a flyer with anti-theft tips. But many passers-by who didn’t want to talk to the group left Ayala feeling like a “virus.”

“I don’t know if it’s because they don’t know who we are,” says John Ayala, the D.C. Angels’ director of operation. “Maybe we look funny in our red berets.”

Anyone who does stop to talk to one of the Guardians Angels could be in for a longish chat. Ayala’s recommendations for safe public phone use are extensive, and include:

  1. Find the wall of a store or building.
  2. Put your back against it.
  3. “Scan the area.”
  4. When you’re comfortable, make your phone call or text.

Ayala says the patrols will continue once or twice a week through December, because he suspects the thieves are just looking for quick holiday cash. “Once they get a cell phone, that’s a quick $50,” he says.

File photo by Matt Dunn.