VaHi Safety Team Report: December 2, 2013

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By: John Wolfinger

Holiday and Every Day Safety

I have a feeling that many of us, who are safety minded most all of the time let the “holiday syndrome” overtake us at this time of year, and let common sense slip as we try to get way too many things done in a limited amount of time. Yeah, you may run into Starbucks or a convenience store thinking you are going to be gone from the car only a couple of minutes and absent-mindedly leave your laptop on the front seat – but that guy hanging around in the parking lot looking for an opportunity to steal something only needs seconds to break your car window and get away with your laptop and all of the data stored in it. Yeah – you have a home alarm system and usually always set it before leaving home – but you think you are only going to be gone a few minutes at the drug store and it will be ok this time – but that guy sitting in the parked car on your street sees that the driveway is empty and no one answers his knock on the door – so he is free for a few minutes to open a back bedroom window that you forgot to lock and he is in and out of your house in minutes and gone in his car. Yeah – you are out shopping and have a bunch of packages to stow in the car trunk before going to another store nearby – but that guy in a nearby parked car sees what you have put in the trunk and while you are gone he jimmies the trunk lock and is gone in seconds with a lot of loot. You have a lot of out of town guests at your annual holiday party and you don’t want to scare your guests, so you don’t remind them to clean out their parked cars before they enjoy your hospitality, and they leave and find their car windows smashed and now they vow never to visit your house again! I think that you get the idea now – just slow down a bit and remember the same common sense safety rules you follow the rest of the year.

The VaHi Holiday Home Tour

By now you know that the annual VaHi Home tour is this weekend. Eleanor Barrineau states she is short just a few volunteers to staff all of the houses – don’t assume your neighbor will step up to fill your slot.  Go to to volunteer. Also use this site to see where the open houses are and if you live near one of the houses, expect a lot of cars and park your car in your driveway if you have one and leave that spot for a visitor. Also, if you see a suburban visitor get out of their car with laptops, cameras, etc. visible, gently remind them to hide them. We have never had an incident (that I know of anyway) during the tour – let’s keep it that way. I’ll be letting Zone 6 know about the tour.

Our Safe Address Package Delivery Program

I know, I know – I keep writing about this, but there always seems to be folks who do not know that we have a no-cost way to thwart the front porch package thieves that will be here amongst us. Just go to Intown Hardware, Morningstar Self-Storage or Urban Body on PDL Place and sign up to have your packages sent to their safe address. Then remember to tell your out-of-town friends and relatives to send their holiday gift packages to this safe address (including Aunt Ruth who sends you a fruitcake every year). These friendly community-minded merchants will also call you when you have a package to pick up.

Recent Home Burglaries

We have suffered three home burglaries and one attempt in just the past few days – two in Morningside on Wayne Avenue and N. Highland Avenue and one here in VaHi on Park Drive. There was also a foiled attempt on Virginia Avenue on 12/2. Be sure to lock ALL doors and windows and set your alarm system EVERY time you leave your house. If you are going away on a holiday trip – let your trusted neighbors know and request a house check from FBAC, if you are a member (one of the greatest membership perks IMHO). Not an FBAC member?  Go to to find out about this off-duty subscription neighborhood patrol service. If you are already a member be sure to avail yourself of their house check service. Oh yes, stop the mail and newspaper while you are gone.

Stanley Eugene Spradlin

I’m certain that this name rings a bell for most of you (especially Elmwood Drive) in that he was the subject of a neighborhood-wide search the end of September before his arrest by Officer Joe Cooper. He is still our guest at Rice Street and is coming up for a hearing on December 13th in the Fulton County CourtHouse downtown. When I learn of the time, courtroom number and specific charges I will be making a posting on our community message boards, as I am sure there will be many of you who will want to CourtWatch to show the judge we do not want him back on our streets anytime soon.

ADP Zone 6 Toy Drive

The Officers of Zone 6 ( have gotten a list together of needy children in the Zone and are asking for donations of new, unwrapped toys for a Christmas party at the precinct on 12/20. I will serve as a VaHi collection spot for your donations – just leave them on my front screened-in porch at 1054 Vance Avenue, NE before 12/18 and I will take them to the Kirkwood Zone headquarters for you. If you have questions as to what sorts of toys are needed – e-mail Sergeant Caroline Tanksley at to get her advice. Please notify me via e-mail when you are leaving items on my front porch so I can take them inside.

The following reports are taken from our APD Zone 6, VaHi Beat 601 crime stats for the 2013 weeks of 44 and 45 (10/27-11/9). These reports are not meant to scare anyone, but to raise your level of alertness as to what happens around us everyday.

Aggravated Assault: On 11/1 on St. Charles Avenue a solo female resident was walking home late at nite and as she reached her apartment a male assailant grabbed her, pushed her down and stated “if you scream I will kill you” while holding a knife at her neck.  She screamed anyway (good for her) – her boyfriend heard her, came to the window and yelled at the knife-wielder to stop.  Amazingly enough, the assaulter fled into the nite on foot.  Please, please, if you know folks who walk solo late at nite – ask them to take a cab or at the least, walk with a group.  Our neighborhood watering holes will help you find a safe way home – if they are just asked.

Auto Theft: A motor scooter was taken from the garage of the Briarcliff Summit.

Commercial Burglary: No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Residential Burglary: On 11/8 a residence was entered on St. Charles Place, stating only that entry was via a rear door, no word as to whether it was locked or not.  On 11/9 a Greenwood Avenue residence was entered with no forced entry noted.

Commercial Robbery: No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Residential Robbery: No reported incidents from Beat 601.

Pedestrian Robbery: No reported incidents from Beat 601  However though, this category of crime is still prevelant elsewhere in the Zone – which means no walking and talking on your cell phone, as I see so often here in VaHi.

Larceny From Vehicle: A Drewry Street resident lost a purse in a taxi cab, and amazingly enough, her driver’s license was mailed back to her – but not the other contents of the purse.  Vehicles were entered on Briarcliff Terrace (a usually crime-free street), PDL Place, Greenwood Avenue, Orme Circle, North Highland Avenue AND a theft of note on PDL Avenue, in that an off-duty APD Officer lost from his private vehicle’s trunk – 2 handcuffs, an APD flashlite, an APD taser, an APD baton, an APD traffic vest, a 40 cal. Smith & Wesson handgun, 40 cal ammo and his own GPS.  I have a feeling that a certain APD Officer had some serious “splaining to do. Yeah – this kind of theft can happen to any of us, if we are not careful.

Larceny Other: A bicycle locked to a Monroe Drive tree was taken with the lock left on the ground.  I wonder if the bolt-cutter used for this theft was also stolen.

Elsewhere in the Zone – our PDL Avenue Kroger and Publix stores caught 5 shoplifters, and always wonder as to how many are not caught, including the folks who eat their way thru the aisles.

The Target store at the Edgewood Retail District caught four shoplifters – one of whom, after confronted, offered to pay for the merchandise with a bad check!!  He just racked up two charges with that offer.

Stay alert, use common sense safety tactics and enjoy this beautiful holiday season.

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