As most of you know by now, I have been stressing the importance of the Clean Car Campaign for years now, and, granted, we have made great strides here in VaHi as to reducing the number of such incidents every week – but they still continue to be a major crime factor here as well as all over Zone 6 (http://www.atlantapd.org/zone6.aspx) and city-wide. Also, granted, a majority (as a rule) of these victims are visitors to our neighborhood as opposed to residents, and this emphasizes the responsibility that we all have to warn our guests to clean out their cars before enjoying time here. Our vibrant hospitality and retail business has a large responsibility here in warning visitors – either verbally or by signs on front doors. The customer that goes back to their car to find a broken window and a loss of personal property may never return – as well as going back to Doraville, Dunwoody or Douglasville and telling all of their friends and neighbors what a dangerous neighborhood VaHi is. It’s that simple. APD has a warning poster (about 18″x24″) and if you are interested in placing such a sign at your business – let me know and I will order enough to be placed all over the neighborhood.
To give you an idea as to the size of this crime problem – these are APD stats from just week #14 (4/1 to 4/7) of this year. In this week alone there were 181 such incidents city-wide, with 52 of these break-ins reported just here in Zone 6. Year-to-date, Zone 6 has had 448 reports of car break-ins versus 406 last year – a 10% increase. Year-to-date city-wide there have been 2158 reports versus 2210 last year – a paltry 2% decrease. Another way to look at this total city-wide year-to-date figure is to assume that it will take at least 15 minutes ( a bare minimum) for the responding officer to handle an investigation and write up a report – this translates to about 540 hours devoted so far this year to this crime – 540 hours that could have been spent patrolling. Yeah, I know that there are those cars that are broken into with nothing taken and without anything showing to tempt the thief – but these are the exception, not the rule. To see for yourself these figures as well as all of the rest of the city stats – go to http://www.atlantapd.org/crimedatadownloads.aspx
I feel sure that the folks who are reading this report are not the ones who are leaving their laptop on the front seat – but PLEASE, pass this on to your friends and neighbors who are guilty of not cleaning out their cars. We are the ones who can control and lower the stats on this crime category.
I got two very interesting reports from VaHi residents about car break-ins in Buckhead – but that could very easily happen most anywhere. One concerns a church that has an exercise program where the patrons do not want their wallet stolen from a locker – so they hide it in their car. The thieves are on to this, watching for females entering without a purse, to victimize. Their cars were empty otherwise. The other report came from a pre-school there, where again, the car borne thieves watched for a female (sans purse) to enter to pick up her child, pulled up their car next to the victim’s car, positioned so a back seat thief passenger could reach out, break the window, snatch the purse, and calmly drive away without attracting attention. This process takes only 4 or 5 seconds.
Think what these folks could accomplish in life if they devoted this much time to a legal pursuit.
After a rash of reports about middle of the night smashed-in car windows all around VaHi a couple of weeks ago, I have not heard of any more incident reports – but have not heard of anyone getting caught either. Hope this joy-riding vandalism is over and done with.
Our new Community Prosecutor, Josh Geller, from the DA’s office, was successful on 2/13 in a bond revocation hearing for Paul Douglas Williams, and he is now our guest in a cell on Rice Street. This is the driver of the 1998 burgindy Buick LeSabre who has been repeatedly spotted in VaHi at locations where many smash and grabs occur. He was arrested in VaHi on 1/4, released on bond the next day, and then, taking advantage of his freedom, was back in action and arrested at a Midtown smash and grab on 1/14 and bonded out again. Now – thanx to Josh, he is no longer free and the Buick is grounded. The next step now is his hearings to determine his guilt or innocence and the ensuing sentencing if warranted.
As reported previously the owner of this 1998 vehicle, with license plate # BVJ 2541, who has been seen so often here on our neighborhood streets with lots of auto break-in incidents, was arrested by our Officer Cooper on 1/5, but bonded out on 1/6, has received an “invitation” from the DA to appear in court 1/19. I intend to attend his initial hearing Tuesday morning at 9 in Judge Woodson’s CourtRoom 8-C in the Fulton County CourtHouse. I’ll leave Vance Avenue at 8:15 that morning if you would like to ride with me – just let me know. This is an all purpose calendar that morning and in all probability, the only thing enacted will to be to set a complete hearing or trial date. But, he might just decide to plead guilty at that time – or then, there is also the possibility that he might now show up at all. Who knows? Keep a lookout for him though, if he decides to visit us before the 19th, if he has the need to raise cash with some smash and grabs.
According to AJC research of APD statistics – we are number 15 on the list of the top 20 City of Atlanta neighborhoods with the most reported crime incidents so far in 2009.
We are on this list almost solely due to the large number of “larceny from vehicle” reports. Though many of the victims are neighborhood residents, the majority are visitors drawn here by our large variety of restaurants and watering holes, and I continue to urge our hospitality businesses to warn their patrons to clean out their vehicles before enjoying an evening here. The solution seems so simple on the surface, yet remains so elusive. Collectively, if we eliminate the bait – the rats will go elsewhere. We all have the responsibility of warning our neighbors and visitors to keep their cars clean.
Read the city-wide neighborhood crime reports at http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-crime-107392.html. This service has been set up by Matt Dempsey at the AJC. He urges feedback to him at email@example.com. It has been suggested on the vhlist we organize some porch parties or neighborhood walking times to increase our citizen exposure on the streets. Any suggestions or further ideas along these lines? Let me know.