Store owner vows to help fight Oak Lawn crime

Posted on 05 Jul 2007 at 9:05pm
By John Wright Staff Writer

Man joins effort after missing crime watch meetings for 3 years



Nancy Weinberger (left), Keith Allen

The owner of a Valero convenience store on Cedar Springs Road is vowing to help fight crime and vagrancy in the area.

Mohammad Taj, who has owned the store at Cedar Springs Road and Knight Street for the last three years or so, said he recently attended his first meeting of the Oak Lawn Apartment Managers and Stakeholders Crime Watch group. Taj, who lives in Coppell, also said he has started visiting the store, one of 12 that he owns with partners, twice a day instead of once or twice a week.

“We want to fight the crime, whatever it takes, we are willing to do so,” Taj said, adding that store employees regularly call police. “There is a very serious problem in that area. For the last two months, it’s getting much better, but we have not totally eliminated it.”

Taj’s comments came in response to criticism from community leaders who say he hasn’t done enough.

“It’s an ongoing horrible situation,” said Nancy Weinberger, who helped found the Crime Watch group about 15 years ago. “Basically, in a nutshell, this has been going on forever and forever.

“We’ve been totally unsuccessful in getting him to cooperate or even to participate in the ongoing problems that arise from that business,” she added.

Oak Lawn interactive police officer Keith Allen said Taj has expressed a willingness in recent weeks to be more involved.

“He’s really come a long way,” Allen said of Taj. “It’s getting better.”

The problem extends beyond just the Valero. Vagrancy and crime have been a problem at the vacant site of the old Tom Thumb store across Cedar Springs, as well as along a city alley north of Valero that runs between Knight and Throckmorton streets.

Until recently, a bench-like planter in front of the Roswell Courts apartment complex had become a popular hangout for vagrants. But signs warning against sitting on the planter and trespassing apparently have deterred some.

Allen and others say they believe the issues are growing pains associated with widespread redevelopment in the area.

Mick Rossley, vice president of the Crosland Group, said his company’s upcoming project on the Tom Thumb site will go a long way toward cleaning up the neighborhood. Crosland plans 316 units luxury apartment units and 22,000 square feet of retail. The project will begin in September or October and take about two years to complete, Rossley said.

“I think it will be an anchor new development for the area that will really be a shot in the arm,” Rossley said. “We don’t have reservations about what the world’s going to be like in 24 months on that street.”

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 6, 2007.

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