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VaHi Safety Team Report

October 11, 2020

Table of Contents
This is a long report, but please bear with us as we have quite a lot of important information to share. 

Significant Incidents

Aggravated Assault  - 1025 Virginia Ave
On August 24, police responded to a caller requesting a report for threats made.  The victim stated that he is the owner of Paolo’s Gelato at 1025 Virginia Ave NE.  He stated that on August 23, someone from a neighboring business (Highland Woodworking) pushed their way through the line at his establishment.  The suspect came in carrying a box of ice cream cones that had been thrown away and a hammer. The person threw the box behind the counter and stated that he would bash the head of any person he saw throwing trash into his dumpster again. Apparently an employee from Paolo's Gelato had thrown the box of cones into the wrong dumpster. Victim stated that there were employees inside at the time the incident occurred. Victim described the suspect as an older gentleman and stated that he wanted to file a police report to document the incident.  The store manager allowed police to view the video footage and it confirmed the victim’s description of the events.

Commercial Burglary - 806 N. Highland Ave
On September 19, police responded to an alarm call at 806 North Highland Ave NE (Cloud 9 Smoke and Vape Co).  Upon arrival, officers observed the front glass door of the business had been shattered with a large rock.  The manager of the store arrived on scene and confirmed that items had been taken, including at least $20-40 worth of assorted Swisher Sweet cigar wraps.  The manager stated that he would have to conduct a full inventory count to know exactly what was taken.  Police examined security footage from the store which showed that at 5:57am a black male wearing a white hat, blue shirt and blue jeans was standing in front of the door then used a large rock to break the front glass door. The suspect was inside the location for about 20 - 30 seconds before exiting and fleeing southbound on North Highland Ave NE.

Commercial Burglary - 794 N. Highland Av
On September 17 at 11:56 a.m., police responded to 794 N Highland Ave (Atkins Park Restaurant) in response to a call about a forced burglary.  The owner stated that her manager locked the restaurant up at approximately midnight and turned the alarm on.  At 2:49 a.m., the owner received a call from her alarm company stating that a motion sensor went off.  The owner instructed the alarm company not to dispatch police since the alarm was known to be very sensitive.  However, upon returning to the restaurant this morning at 11:45 a.m., the owner noticed that the side window had been broken with a brick and six bottles of liquor had been taken.  Security footage was not immediately available, but a partial fingerprint was lifted from the broken window.

Commercial Burglary - 842 N. Highland Av
On September 14 at approximately 4:25 a.m, police responded to a business burglary call at 842 N Highland Ave (Truva Turkish Kitchen).  Upon arrival, police met with the owner who stated that his restaurant had been broken into at approximately 4:11 a.m.  The owner viewed video surveillance footage of suspects throwing a rock at the door and forcing entry into the restaurant, where they stole approximately 11 bottles of liquor, valued around $600 in total.  The owner was provided with an incident case number and a report was made.

BOLO

While we always try to be respectful of the homeless members of our community, we also encounter some individuals around whom we need to exercise caution. In some rare cases we need to make the public aware of individuals to avoid. There have been several reports lately about a man who is generally wrapped up in or carrying a blanket. This man has been verbally abusive, has inappropriately touched women, and in at least one case shoved a woman runner who was waiting at a traffic light. We have been unable to determine his name, so for now he is being called Blanket Man. He has been seen most often around the intersection of N. Highland and Ponce, further south on N. Highland and Blue Ridge in Poncey-Highland, and in the Publix parking lot.

Last week we obtained this photograph and shared it with APD, asking that they investigate and try to get this individual some help. They located him quickly and referred him to the Pre-Arrest Diversion program (PAD). The folks at PAD addressed his immediate needs and scheduled an appointment with him, which sadly he did not keep. When the director told us she did not know where to find him, we posted on Nextdoor and within a short time his location was reported by a resident. EMTs and APD responded. Unfortunately he was unwilling to accept help at that time, but Director White has not given up and her team will approach him again this coming week.

We were saddened to hear a report from one of the EMTs that this individual is positive for COVID-19. While we have no independent confirmation of this rumor, we urge everyone to be very cautious around any strangers who are unmasked and may not observe social distancing protocol. The City of Atlanta has been fortunate that the surge of positive cases among the homeless population has not been as bad as feared, but this population remains extremely vulnerable.

If you do have a negative encounter with Blanket Man, please contact the Ms. White at PAD 404-458-5787, and if there is a crime involved, do not hesitate to call 911 for immediate assistance.

Street Racing

Street racing has become an increasing problem in the City of Atlanta. We have been reading about it on Nextdoor, seeing City Council President Moore address it on Facebook, hearing about it on the local news, and experiencing the noise and disruption as we try to sleep at night. Whether you call it laying drag, drifting, or donuts, these organized events are increasingly disruptive as large groups of vehicles are taking over and shutting down streets - even major highways like I-85. The participants have become more aggressive blocking access to police, shooting off fireworks and in some reports firearms and making the streets unsafe for pedestrians and other drivers. 

In response to complaints, Atlanta City Council has passed new legislation to allow police to not only charge drivers and impound vehicles, but also to charge organizers and spectators. In addition they are looking at ways to increase penalties.

Local businesses are hiring private security to stop crowds from congregating at their parking lots, and empowering Atlanta PD to take action on their private property. In some cases residents have raised funds to defray part of those costs, and are actively notifying police, not only as racing is taking place, but as they are seeing scheduled events on social media. 
One neighbor sent us this image from Instagram











We shared it with APD Zone 6 and learned that the Atlanta PD Auto Crimes Enforcement Unit (ACE) tracks all the organizer's social media, and that the city had a detail in place this weekend. We reached out to the owner and learned that officers where in place in advance, so this meetup never happened. It is through this sort of collaboration between residents, businesses, Atlanta police and city officials that we will get this problem under control. Sadly, such irresponsible behavior by a group has already resulted in serious injury. Please do call 911 to report any future incidents. 

Quick Notes

Halloween
We have reached out to city officials and were told by President Felicia Moore that she is not aware of any plan from the Mayor or Council to take an official position on Trick or Treating. The VHCA, likewise is not taking a position, although the organization has cancelled all events for the remainder of the year including Summerfest, Tour of Homes, and events in North Highland Park. As such, our recommendation will rely on CDC guidelines. They have some good suggestions about how to celebrate safely. Obviously, no community candy bowls, and knocking on doors may be out of the question. We hope our community will support those who participate safely and also those who because of health, or perhaps financial difficulties, feel they cannot.

Airbnb Update
Councilmember Howard Shook has introduced legislation to limit Airbnb type rentals in residential areas. The legislation defines short term rentals (STR) as any rental under 31 days. You can read the preliminary Legislation and review the accompanying Fact Sheet. These documents are preliminary and the proposed legislation may change. If you have strong feelings about this matter, please contact our District 6 council member Jennifer Ide and Howard Shook

Crime Statistics

Note that, beginning in April 2020, APD stopped breaking out the type of burglary, larceny or robbery (i.e. commercial, residential or pedestrian) so this information can not be reported or compared to earlier periods. 

The Atlanta Police Department is currently transitioning to a new report management system and updating our data recording system from the Summary Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR) to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). As we make this change, some of our online services will be temporarily unavailable. We will be working on addressing these issues and hope to have our publicly posted crime data available in the near future. We appreciate your patience as we work to bring these resources back on line, and ensure they are collecting accurate data. Thank you..
September 2020 Beat
   601   602   613   614 
Aggravated Assault 3 1 -- --
Auto Theft 2 1 1 1
Burglary Non-Residential 3 2 3 --
Burglary Residential
Larceny From Vehicle 3 17 13 6
Larceny Non-Vehicle
Homicide -- -- -- --
Rape -- -- -- --
Robbery Commercial -- 1 -- --
Robbery Pedestrian
Robbery Residential
Beat 601 = all of Virginia-Highland

Beat 602 = Poncey-Highland and Inman Park

Beat 613 = Morningside and parts of Piedmont Heights and Lindridge Martin Manor

Beat 614 = Part of Midtown East including the Garden District
 
September 2020    
  Beat 601    Zone 6   
Aggravated Assault 3 19
Auto Theft 2 33
Burglary Non-Residential 3 31
Burglary Residential
Larceny From Vehicle 3 127
Larceny Non-Vehicle
Homicide -- --
Rape -- --
Robbery Commercial -- 10
Robbery Pedestrian
Robbery Residential
   
If you are a resident and not connected with your street captain, please send a message to safety@vahi.org to be introduced.

If you are not a resident but would like to be added to the distribution for these reports, please send a message to me at VaHiSafety@gmail.com with your name, email address, and affiliation. Thanks.
 
Stay Safe!
 
Kay Stephenson
Copyright © 2020 Virginia-Highland Safety Team, All rights reserved.


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