Business leader says recent string of robberies has become rare, credits working relationship with police for decrease in Wycliff-Lemmon TAAG


GAY HOT SPOT | The Wycliff-Lemmon TAAG is outlined in the above map from DPD.

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

Despite a recent string of robberies that made the TV news, overall crime dropped sharply in the first six months of 2012 in the area near the Cedar Springs strip.

Crime in the Wycliff-Lemmon Target Area Action Grid, previously called the Cedar Springs-Wycliff TAAG and the Maple-Wycliff TAAG, decreased 47 percent from January 1 to July 10 compared to year-end numbers from 2011 obtained from Dallas Police Department.

The TAAG stretches from Maple Avenue to Lemmon Avenue and from Oak Lawn Avenue to Kings Road. Violent crime dropped 46 percent, with 58 offenses in the first six months of the year. There were 362 nonviolent crimes reported, a 47 percent drop from last year’s numbers.

Scott Whittall, executive director of the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, said merchants have been working closely with police to report crimes. The security guard the association hired has also communicated with police to report suspicious people and incidents.

“I think the reason crime is down is because we’ve worked closely with Dallas police, even though we don’t have cameras yet,” he said. “[Cameras] are a great reason to drive down crime even more.”

The Wycliff-Lemmon hot spot ranked No. 7 for overall crime in April, but currently ranks No. 11 among the list of 27 hot spots citywide. The TAAG is also No. 11 in line for new police technology that would furnish areas with added cameras and bait cars. The top 10 are expected to be equipped by the end of 2012.

Four robberies and a possible fifth that police are investigating occurred within the first 11 days of July in the Wycliff-Lemmon TAAG, prompting NBC Channel 5 to air a story about the offenses this week.

The first robbery was at 3 a.m. on July 4 when a man walking near his residence in the 3800 block of Cedar Springs Road was held up by a suspect in a vehicle. The suspect took the victim hostage and stole his wallet before releasing him at a gas station in Addison.

On July 7, a man and his friend were robbed in the 4100 block of Hall Street around 11 p.m. They were walking toward a residence when two white suspects in their 20s with brown hair and medium builds came up behind them. One pointed a pistol at them and demanded they get on the ground and give the suspects their money, phones, wallets and credit card pin numbers.

Two robberies occurred July 9. A man and a woman were robbed while walking to the Kroger at Cedar Springs and Wycliff Avenue shortly after midnight. A Hispanic suspect in his 20s approached them on foot in the 4100 block of Hall Street, pointed a small silver semiautomatic pistol at the man’s head, demanding his money. The man told the suspect he didn’t have any money, but the woman handed over $50.

Around the same time, two men were walking in the 3900 block of Rawlins Street when two Hispanic suspects in their 20s demanded money and beat one of the victims in the left arm with a baseball bat when he didn’t “comply fast enough,” the incident report states. When the victim responded in Spanish, the suspects fled the location without any of their property.

Police are also investigating a possible robbery in the early hours of July 11 when a 19-year-old black man yelled at a man leaving a gas station in the 4000 block of Cedar Springs. The suspect tackled the victim and took $60.

Lt. Scott Walton said it’s unlikley the robberies are related because the suspect descriptions are different.

Whittall said the recent robberies are not common anymore as more patrols, quicker response times and a greater police presence in general has driven crime down near the strip. He said the lower crime rates are a “shining example of what can happen when you have a really good working relationship with police,” adding that the high percentage crime dropped was not a surprise because of the community’s efforts.

“We knew that they would go down. The tell is in the numbers,” he said. “We’re elated. We’re very, very happy because that was the goal.”

Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, DPD’s LGBT Liaison, agreed that participation and involvement from the community has helped lower the numbers by reporting crimes.

“We do our best to send resources when people report crime,” she said. “When people report crime, we saturate the area and crime going down is normally a crime trend.”

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