Crime watch leader: ‘We have to learn to STOP leaving stuff in our vehicles’

The Dallas Morning News reports today that overall reported crime was down 11 percent in 2012 citywide, despite a slight increase in violent offenses. We’ll have a detailed look at 2012 crime stats for the Oak Lawn gayborhood in this Friday’s print edition. But for now we thought we’d share these maps sent over by Nancy Weinberger, leader of the Oak Lawn crime watch group. The maps show where crimes occurred in the area for December. Note that the crime watch group’s jurisdiction is split into two DPD divisions by Oak Lawn Avenue. The first map shows the portion that’s in the Northwest Division, while the second shows the portion that’s in the Central Division. As you can see BMVs (burglaries of motor vehicles) were by far the most common offense in December, numbering 38. As Weinberger said in her email to the group’s members, “We have to learn to STOP leaving stuff in our vehicles.” Check out the maps below.

—  John Wright

DPD seeks help in identifying suspects in Cedar Springs ATM kidnapping

 

Dallas police are asking the public for help in identifying two suspects who kidnapped and robbed a 43-year-old man at gunpoint on Monday.

The man was kidnapped while using an ATM in the 3900 Cedar Springs Road, according to a press release from Dallas police. He was bound with duct tape and driven to locations in Dallas and Irving and forced to give his PIN to his captives before he was dumped in Irving.

The two suspects are described as a Hispanic woman wearing a light-colored shirt and a Hispanic man wearing a dark blue shirt with light-colored shorts. He is approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds. The type of vehicle is unknown.

Anyone with information on the identity of these suspects can contact Detective Scoggins of the Crimes Against Persons Robbery Unit at 214-671-3658 or 214-671-3584.

—  Dallasvoice

DPD investigating sergeant’s comments to lesbian officers about Chick-fil-A

Laura Martin

A Dallas police sergeant has been transferred to the jail after he allegedly made inappropriate comments to two lesbian patrol officers concerning Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day last week.

Sgt. Mark Johnson, a 12-year-veteran, has been assigned to the jail pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, according to DPD Assistant Chief Michael Genovesi.

The two lesbian officers complained after Johnson placed a Chick-fil-A bag in front of them on Wednesday, Aug. 1, and said something about having eaten at the restaurant, Genovesi said.

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, organized by anti-gay former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was designed to show support for Chick-fil-A’s opposition to same-sex marriage. And the lesbian officers said they felt Johnson, their supervisor, was trying to send them a message.

Later during a meeting, Johnson read an announcement sent out by Genovesi concerning how officers were to handle a gay kiss-in planned at Chick-fil-A restaurants last Friday. The kiss-in was organized by members of the LGBT community in response to Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. As Johnson read the announcement, he was looking at the lesbian officers. Feeling intimidated, they left the meeting early.

“I would reiterate that we do take any type of discrimination or harassment issue seriously,” Genovesi told Instant Tea. “I’m optimistic that the investigation will ferret out what happened on this, and we’ll take action if action is called for.”

—  John Wright

POLICE BLOTTER: Aggravated robbery reported on Gilbert Avenue in Oak Lawn

Oak Lawn crime watch leader Nancy Weinberger reports in an email:

Last night (Jan. 29) a little after 9 p.m. in the 4500 block of Gilbert there was a robbery/assault. The victims were unloading their car after coming home from dinner. They were assaulted and robbed at gunpoint by two young blacks … one male, one female, skinny and probably 18-20 years old. The suspects were walking but there was another person (also black) waiting for them in a car nearby and they escaped. It was an early 2000s, dark-colored Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis. The female had long, braided, ponytail hair. The victim suspects they were on drugs. The police tried to locate them using the Find my Phone app on the stolen phone but they got away.

This is information I was provided by one of the victims via email. The police report number I was given is 24512-Z.

As of Monday afternoon the report had not been posted on DPD’s website, and a department spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached. Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates.

UPDATE: Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for DPD, said police have no suspects and have made no arrests.

—  John Wright

Police seek suspects who robbed Bio Scrip on Cedar Springs, 7 other businesses

DPD is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying two suspects who are now believed to be responsible for up to eight recent aggravated robberies. Among the stores hit were Bio Scrip Pharmacy at 3826 Cedar Springs Road on Dec. 23 and Skylight Wireless at 3218 Oak Lawn Ave. on Dec. 26.

The first suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, red T-shirt and black or blue cap with a red bill. The second suspect is described as a black male in his early 20s, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds, wearing dark jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt.

The two suspects are also believed to be responsible for recent offenses at the following locations:

• T-Mobile 3003 Knox
• Metro PCS 3610 Inwood
• Baja Auto Insurance 2542 Gus Thomasson
• Raven Pharmacy 500 W. Jefferson
• EZ Money Loan 5365 Spring Valley Rd
• Metro PCS 4825 Ross Ave

If you have information about these suspects or any of these crimes call the Dallas Police Department Crimes Against Persons Unit at 214-671-3584, or if you wish to remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477).

—  David Taffet

Violent crime falls 13% in Oak Lawn hotspot

But jumps in vehicle burglaries, auto thefts fuel overall increase in 2011 for Maple-Wycliff TAAG

Martin.Laura

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com
Violent crime fell roughly 13 percent last year in the 1-square-mile hotspot that encompasses the Cedar Springs entertainment district and most of the Oak Lawn gayborhood, according to statistics provided by the Dallas Police Department this week.

However, the number of nonviolent offenses jumped 7 percent in the area —including significant spikes in vehicle burglaries and auto thefts — leading to a 4 percent increase in overall crime.

The Maple-Wycliff Target Area Action Grid, previously known as the Cedar Springs Wycliff TAAG, stretches generally from Maple Avenue to Lemmon Avenue, and from Oak Lawn Avenue to Kings Road.

The area, identified by DPD as one of 27 crime hotspots citywide, recorded 108 violent offenses from Jan. 1 through Dec. 26 of 2011, down from 122 violent offenses during the same period in 2010. Statistics for the final five days of the year were not yet available this week.

The 2011 numbers put the Maple-Wycliff TAAG at No. 7 for violent crime on a list of the city’s worst hotspots. Three years ago, shortly after the hotspots were identified, the Maple-Wycliff TAAG climbed as high as No. 2 on the list.

“I think part of it is the general trend in Dallas and nationally, that crime has gone down,” said Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, whose district includes portions of the Maple-Wycliff TAAG. “I think the other part of it is the additional focus the city has placed on making safety a greater priority in that area.”

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison for DPD, cited increased patrols, including plainclothes officers, as well as greater community involvement.

“The reason we have TAAG areas is they’re identified as high crime areas, so we address them with extra patrols,” Martin said. “Those areas where we have high crime get more attention, so it would stand to reason that crime would be reduced in those areas.”

Both Hunt and Martin also pointed to improved street lighting in the gayborhood, much of which was initiated by Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats’ Light Up Oak Lawn campaign.

Martin said even the Office Depot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave. — where the parking lot has long been plagued by aggravated robberies — recently installed additional lighting.

“If you go over there on the weekend now it looks like Christmas,” Martin said. “I don’t believe we’ve had a problem since then at that location.”

The 12.5 percent decrease in violent crime in the Maple-Wycliff TAAG was part of an 8.8 percent reduction citywide — which marked the eighth straight annual decline, a record for Dallas.

The Dallas Morning News reported this week that murders dropped to a 44-year low in 2011, while total crime was down 39 percent over the last eight years.

Factors cited as contributing to the trend include the hiring of hundreds more police officers over the last few years, DPD’s strategy of hotspot policing and the large number of convicts who are behind bars.

However, despite increased attention from police, the news was not all good for the Maple-Wycliff TAAG. Statistics obtained by Dallas Voice show vehicle burglaries jumped 21 percent from 2010 to 2011, while auto thefts jumped 17 percent.

The Maple-Wycliff TAAG recorded 338 vehicle burglaries in 2011 — or an average of almost one per day — up from 280 in 2010.

Martin noted that the number of vehicle burglaries dropped sharply over the last month of 2011. She said this was after DPD made several arrests of burglars who had been very active in the area.

Martin advised people to park in well-lit, nonisolated areas, away from shadows and tree cover, and to lock their vehicles and set their alarms if they have them.

She also said people should take anything from their vehicles they can’t afford to lose, and hide everything else under a seat, or in the glove compartment or trunk.

But she warned people against hiding items after they’ve already parked, because she said criminals look for this.

“You don’t want people to observe you hiding things,” she said. “Make your vehicle a hard target. Burglary of a vehicle a lot of times is a crime of opportunity.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Laura Martin is now a senior corporal

Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department's LGBT liaison officer, accepts her senior corporal badge from Chief David Brown last week.

Of the 400 Dallas police officers who took an exam to become senior corporals this year, LGBT liaison Laura Martin received the highest score.

Martin was one of 37 officers promoted to senior corporal last week (photo above).

She’s been with the department for almost 14 years, including the last five as LGBT liaison officer.

Martin, currently assigned to a community engagement unit at DPD’s Northwest Division, said she doesn’t expect her duties or position to change as a result of the promotion, although she acknowledged that down the road it could “open up the department.”

“You can move around more, although I’m happy where I am,” Martin said. “It’s always good to promote if you get a chance. It’s a little more money and a better pension. … I don’t expect that I’ll be doing anything differently than what I’m already doing.”

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Taylor Garrett of ‘The A-List’ claims he was assaulted in Oak Lawn on Friday

Taylor Garrett claims someone carved "Fuck Coulter" into the side of his blue 2008 Audi. (via The Daily Caller)

Garrett is shown after the alleged attack. (via Twitter)

As you may have heard, Taylor Garrett, the gay Republican cast member from The A-List Dallas, claims he was assaulted on Friday night in Dallas by someone who carved “Fuck Coulter” into the side of his vehicle, according The Daily Caller.

This marks the second time in six weeks Garrett has reported being targeted for his association with conservative commentator Ann Coulter and for being a gay Republican. Last month, Garrett alleged that a rock with a threatening note attached was thrown at the window of his Dallas Design District apartment. Some gay bloggers have alleged that Garrett falsified the report about the rock as a publicity stunt in advance of the premiere of The A-List Dallas.

We don’t know much about Friday’s incident beyond what’s already been reported, but we did manage to track down a copy of the police report Garrett filed, and we’ve posted it below.

Sr. Cpl. Gerardo Monreal, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said today there have been no arrests, and he was unsure whether the case has been assigned to a detective yet. As you can see from the report, the suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6 feet, 2 inches tall. The suspect had a dark beard and was wearing a baseball hat.

The incident occurred at 10:20 p.m. at 2800 Knight St. (near Congress Avenue), where Garrett had parked his blue 2008 Audi. According to The Daily Caller, Garrett was returning to his car to retrieve a birthday gift for a friend when he noticed the suspect. According to the police report, Garrett yelled for the suspect to get away from the car. That’s when the suspect punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground and strike his head against the concrete. Garrett suffered a bloody nose and a cut to his ear. He returned to the party a few blocks away before calling authorities. He was treated at the scene by paramedics from Dallas Fire-Rescue.

Jason Shumaker, a spokesman for Logo, the network that is airing The A-List Dallas, said this morning that Garrett is traveling all day today and was unavailable for comment.

GOProud, a gay conservative group with which Garrett is affiliated, alleged on Twitter this weekend that the incident is an example of “anti-conservative violence from the hateful gay-left (again).”

The full police report is after the jump.

UPDATE, 3 p.m.: Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer, said this afternoon that a detective has been assigned to the case and has already spoken with Garrett.

“We’re definitely aware of it and we’re looking at it and we’re in contact with him,” Martin said. “There are no leads at this point.”

Martin said Garrett was unable to provide any additional info about the suspect, beyond what was in the initial report. She also confirmed that Garrett declined to wait for physical evidence services — or PES — which means police weren’t able to take photographs or attempt to get fingerprints from the side of the vehicle.

“Obviously there is damage to his vehicle and there is damage to his face, so it does appear that he was assaulted,” Martin said. “We just don’t know by whom.”

Martin said regardless, the incident doesn’t appear to be a hate crime.

“From reading the report, it sounds like he was targeted again for his political views and his association with Ann Coulter,” she said. “Unless he was targeted strictly because he was gay, it’s not a hate crime.”

Dallas Voice was contacted earlier today by CBS 11, which reportedly will air a story about the incident this afternoon. Martin said she’d also spoken with a reporter from The Dallas Morning News.

—  John Wright

Trio robbed at gunpoint in Office Depot parking lot early Sunday after visiting Cedar Springs

The parking lot of Office Depot on Oak Lawn Avenue — a popular place for Cedar Springs club-goers to park after hours — has also become a hotspot for criminal activity.

In the latest incident, three people from East Texas were robbed at gunpoint and carjacked early Sunday in the lot at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave., near the intersection of Dickason Avenue.

According to police reports, it was at least the fourth aggravated robbery in the Office Depot parking lot in the last three months. Reports show there have also been numerous vehicle break-ins and other offenses reported during the same time period.

“We’ve definitely had a problem at that location,” said Laura Martin, the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer.

In the latest case, the three victims had returned to their vehicle at about 3 a.m. Sunday when the two suspects pulled up behind them in a white Dodge Avenger, according to reports. The suspects, described as two black males wearing hooded sweatshirts, got out, pointed handguns at two of the victims who were standing in the parking lot and said, “Get on the ground, give me your money.”

—  John Wright

Dallas police: 2nd rock was found outside ‘A-List: Dallas’ cast member Taylor Garrett’s apartment

Taylor Garrett

Two rocks with threatening notes attached — not one — were found last week outside a broken window at the Design District apartment of Taylor Garrett, a gay Republican cast member from the The A-List Dallas.

Laura Martin, LGBT liaison officer for the Dallas Police Department, said today that a porter at the complex found the first rock in some mulch in the bushes. The porter looked up and saw broken glass on the door to Garrett’s second-floor balcony. The porter notified the apartment manager, who contacted a Dallas police officer who lives at the complex. It’s unclear when the porter actually found the rock, Martin said, but records show the officer filed his report last Friday morning and placed the rock into evidence.

Martin said the officer wasn’t initially able to contact Garrett, who has said he returned late last Thursday from Los Angeles, where he’d been filming for The A List. When someone from the complex finally got ahold of Garrett, they went onto the balcony and discovered a second rock with a similar note attached. They also discovered that the double-pane glass window was broken only halfway through, Martin said.

—  John Wright