Editor's note: The following information was posted on Aug. 31, 2012 by the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance (MPSA). The MPSA has served the Midtown community since 2003 as a non-profit organization by coordinating neighborhood response to public safety and security issues in order to advance the Midtown way of life. The MPSA achieves this objective primarily by operating a neighborhood security patrol funded by its resident and business members, and community sponsors. See here for more information about becoming a member of the MPSA. The MPSA coverage area includes:
- From Juniper Street to the defunct railroad track just east of Monroe Drive and Home Depot
- From Ponce de Leon Avenue to 10th Street.
- Highlighted in green on the map
- All of Kennesaw Avenue, Penn Avenue, Myrtle Street, are in the service area, along with Glen Iris Drive down to but not including North Avenue
In a recent review of burglary stats for year-to-date, we find the incident count for our service area to be significantly less than year-to-date through August. During the period of January through August 2011, the APD crime stats feature shows 23 burglaries in the MPSA service area. So far this year we have had only 9 residential burglaries.
We attribute the reduction in residential burglaries in significant part to these factors:
- Our intensive patrol coverage during the day, when most of us are at work. In any community residential burglaries most frequently occur during daytime hours when there are relatively few people at home. In the last couple of years we have focused much of our patrol efforts during times of our greatest vulnerability to crime.
- The reduction of street drugs apparently resulting from Councilman Kwanza Hall’s Year of Boulevard initiative. Most of our burglars are street people rather than professional burglars, who exchange stolen goods for drugs along the Boulevard corridor. APD has stepped up its proactive presence in the area south of Ponce. The street people tell us that the drug situation is not what it used to be.
- Proactive policing on the part of APD
- Intel work, in which we have identified and monitored criminally-inclined individuals frequenting the area. Several convicted burglars are in currently in prison, and property owners have followed our urging to evict those involved with drugs or other street crimes contributing to burglary.
Most noteworthy is the recent capture of a burglary suspect striking mostly in the Virginia Highland area, but also a property each in Ansley Park and on 9th Street. An observant neighbor in Virginia Highland reported a suspicious person, whom APD linked to several burglaries upon investigation of this individual. An investigator later drove him around the community so he could point out all the houses that he burglarized, including the one on 9th Street. .
The suspect in this case, Charles Echols, remains in the Fulton County jail on multiple counts of burglary. Parole Board records list him as currently on parole for a full sentence running until June 2014. He was released in April of this year, and in May already he was arrested on a parole violation. A month later he is back out of the Fulton County jail. He has been in prison 12 times for burglary in Georgia alone – quite a chronic criminal. In his parole board picture he even appears to dress like a burglar…
But don’t get complacent! Nine counts are still too many, and we may be in a rash right now. APD tells us that the latest trend for burglaries in the upper area of Zone 5 (Midtown/Ansley Park/Home Park) involves a modus operandi in which the subject removes screens at multi-unit properties and enters through windows. Most frequently stolen items include laptops and small electronics. In our research we find that all but the one on 9th Street in the last three months involve multi-unit properties with secured access.
APD believes that much of this caseload can be put on the tab of one particular individual making rounds in the area. On 08/15/12 the suspect took a Georgia Tech ballcap during a burglary in 6th & Cypress area. On 08/24/12 a burglary occurred at 900 Peachtree Street, and the victim reported to police that he saw a suspicious black male prior to the break-in wearing the same type of Georgia Tech baseball cap, along with a yellow polo shirt and black pants. The victim further reported the suspect as having a stocky build, approximately 5’07” in height, and unkempt in appearance with a salt and pepper beard. Officers responding to a burglary call at Piedmont & 6th recovered the same Georgia Tech ball cap on 08/28/12 (122410880). The perpetrator fell through the ceiling of the victim’s apartment and left the hat behind. It was collected as evidence and later submitted to the GBI Crime Lab for analysis. The suspect has yet to be identified.
In that last burglary incident, we received the following narrative from someone living in that building:
A neighbor at The Elliott filed a police report on the following incident – Small, about 5’4, skinny, and wearing a neon vest (like the ones that construction workers and road crews wear), and pretends to be servicing whatever he is getting into if approached. The police said there had been a BOLO out for him, but the BOLO was for guy in a GA Tech cap, which he left in our building, so guess the new BOLO is neon vest.
He broke into our building at Piedmont & 6th at 11am this past Monday morning by fiddling the lobby door lock, and he was bold. He was in our lobby when one neighbor came in and pretended to be the locksmith. Then, knowing she was home for lunch, he rearranged the hall furniture and climbed into our attic (nothing but insulation up there). I saw the furniture had been moved and went to investigate, knocked on a neighbor’s door where the furniture ended up, and he ANSWERED the door pretending to be doing electrical work in the unit (top floor so they could be running wires in the attic), and had moved the furniture to access the outlets. He even had a rubber gasket out in the hall to look like he has something working, which I didn’t question since he was inside the unit and the door wasn’t damaged and of course we often have legit African American repairmen in the building.
Found out later he got in the unit by accidentally falling through the attic floor into their DR right before I knocked, so after I yelled at him about the furniture, he apparently decided two run ins was too many and left, and I saw him on the Dakota corner on the phone when I pulled away. Guess he is clear now that our building is not empty during the work day, and we have the locksmith coming to add a plate to the door so he can’t get back in. APD figured he won’t be back since we will all be looking for him and won’t fall for the service routine again.
Just wanted to let you all know he is around and bold as brass…Owners at the Shellmont also saw him and they are on the lookout as well. I have also emailed the president of 812 /816 Piedmont too so our corner is covered…
We rely on ongoing support from the neighborhood, and need more people to join and contribute to the MPSA. The large reduction in burglaries is simply not good enough. We have to maintain and improve conditions during the daytime, when most of us are away at work. Furthermore, we need to expand the patrol to cover more night-time hours in order to more effectively address late-night muggings (those are way down by the way) and to target the transvestite prostitutes whose blatant criminal activity invites even more crime and disorder. Starting early next year, several convicted burglars either have maximum release dates or tentative parole months (we will work aggressively to avert some of those). We will have more on these issues later, but the more support we can get from the community, the more effectively we can address the various problems affecting the neighborhood. Encourage your neighbors to join!