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Day 738: Lower Garden District Crime

Is the recent increase in crime in the Lower Garden District a neighborhood thing or part of a city-wide trend?

On Thursday of last week, I told you of a shooting at St. Vincent’s Guest House steps from my place.  Since then,

1. One of our neighborhood association members was accosted inside his house (on Euterpe Street between Prytania and Coliseum) this weekend by three gun-wielding thugs.  Although he had a gun put in his face and was beaten up, he ran away and barely escaped an unthinkable fate.  The incident has been reported to 6th District police.

2.  Our neighborhood association president has heroin junkies shooting up behind his house, while car thefts on his block continue with alarming regularity.  Last week, he saw a guy riding a bike through Coliseum Square park with a handgun in one hand.

3.  Last night, D and I parked outside the Walgreens on Felicity & St. Charles and were walking in when I heard (quite well) and glimpsed (not so well) one of three gathered kids hit an old man on the head with a full plastic soda bottle.  The response time of the Orleans Parish official inside Walgreens was appalling as he didn’t want to take the old man’s complaint seriously.

4.  On returning home last night, D and I saw a strange guy sitting on my neighbor’s front porch while working on a laptop computer.  I called my neighbor, my neighbor told the guy to get off his property and then I saw Laptop Guy take his laptop and crouch between two cars in front of my house (WTF?).  Another neighbor saw this and went out to deal with the weirdo himself.  When confronted, Laptop Guy yelled, “I can do what I want!” and scurried from one front porch to another on our block, even running into the yard of my neighbor across the street, until he was run off.  D saw him land at Mojo coffee shop, where he should have been in the first place if he wanted wireless internet access, which made D and I suspect that Laptop Guy was attempting to break into networks in our neighborhood.  Regardless, strangers sitting on front porches and crouching between cars is suspicious activity unto itself. 

Here are two PSAs that stem from Incident 4 above:

a) Secure your wireless network (or don’t put sensitive information on an unsecured network like at coffee shops) and 

b) Trespassing or sitting between cars is a great way to get reported to police, your rear hauled in by said police or, worse, the crap kicked out of you and your laptop thrown into oncoming traffic.

What is the deal with crime in this previously calm and relatively safe neighborhood?  Are pickings slim elsewhere in town, are criminals getting more confident and brazen all over town, or are these the first signs of a good neighborhood (yet not as well-patrolled as the Garden District proper or Uptown) going bad?

==

Lower Garden District Meeting Announcement: Meeting room at the Kingsley house on Wednesday, Sep 12th from 7 – 9 pm.  As far as I know, Stacy Head and her legislative aide, Carla Gendusa, will be there along with the Coliseum Square neighborhood association president, Robert Wolf.  Robert is petitioning for the presence of the 6th District police captain as well as representatives from the DA’s office, FBI, ATF, CIA, or “whomever else can inform us as to what they are doing and what we can do to get crime under control in the LGD.”

12 comments… add one
  • rcs September 5, 2007, 11:17 AM

    Regarding the laptop-wielding a**hole:

    A friend of mine was recently treated to a surprise visit to his house by the authorities, who presented him with a search warrant and proceeded to remove EVERYTHING computer-related from his house: laptop, PC, networking gear, backup drives, cell phone, etc etc. Apparently someone had uploaded child pornography via his open wireless network some months ago. They scanned all of his hardware and cleared him but he still had to endure two weeks without data access, which in his line of work is potentially crippling.

    So: SECURE THOSE NETWORKS!

  • Dambala September 5, 2007, 11:30 AM

    I think one issue in terms of the crime may be St. Vincents, itself. I think it’s serving as some kind of half-way house/drug rehab center as oppposed to a battered women’s shelter which it was before….not sure about that though. Regardless, there’s a ton of sketchy shit around that location. Be careful.

  • Blair September 5, 2007, 12:21 PM

    My previous offer stands.

  • Maitri September 5, 2007, 2:55 PM

    No, really, Dambala? Hadn’t noticed. “Around that location” includes my place and the “sketchy shit” there is what I’ve been describing in the past couple of posts. :-)

    St. Vincent’s is a known flop house and the crime corridor between that place and Abstract Bookshop & Cafe is a part of the problem. A part. Once St. Vincent’s is shut down, things will get better a bit (until people break in to squat there). What’s the real problem and what’s a more lasting solution?

  • Puddinhead September 6, 2007, 6:52 AM

    Sounds like the solution is simple–force them to move all services for the “undesirables” like those offered at St. Vincent’s to someone else’s neighborhood. LOL

  • mikesmiley September 6, 2007, 8:49 AM

    I doubt this is much consolation but there is a lot of property that will be changing hands nearby in the near future. I found these 5 examples, all posted within a few hours on Wednesday, 9/5. We can hope that more responsible property owners (read landlords) will attract more civic minded residents.
    http://neworleans.craigslist.org/rfs/414873258.html
    http://neworleans.craigslist.org/rfs/414882376.html
    http://neworleans.craigslist.org/rfs/414883995.html
    http://neworleans.craigslist.org/rfs/414886383.html
    http://neworleans.craigslist.org/rfs/414913316.html

  • Maitri September 6, 2007, 10:41 AM

    The word on the street is that the current owner of St. Vincent’s purchased the place almost a decade ago for pennies on the dollar and has since put little work into it. He’s essentially a slumlord in it for the money. Our neighborhood association has to watch these sales like a hawk and make sure that responsible property owners enter this area.

  • Dambala September 6, 2007, 1:19 PM

    ISL has their eyes on it for a high school….my son just started ISL. Problem is I think the guys want’s like 7 million for the property…yousa.

  • Maitri September 6, 2007, 1:25 PM

    And what bugs me about that is that the asshole slumlord bought it for this:

    Sale Date 25-FEB-94
    Sale Price $940,000

    Look up assessments for 1507 Magazine St. and also under the name Peter Schreiber.

  • CDubb September 6, 2007, 9:13 PM

    Re: St. Vincent’s. From what John and I can remember from back then was that the building was in very bad shape and there were not a lot of interested buyers. The owner purchased the property with his now ex-wife and they ran it as a bed and breakfast. It was actually a decent place, and one that we reccomended to out-of-town guests on a budget. The couple split up some time ago (the ex-wife no longer involved), and you see the state it’s in now. I think the property would be prime for condo conversion with it’s space for parking, a pool, and courtyard layout. It would require substantial additional money to fix the place up, too. . .

  • Ferris Wheel September 7, 2007, 2:25 PM

    To respond to one of the remarks above — I think the real issue here is not one of NIMBY (not in my backyard) but rather the manner in which a drug rehab center/ halfway house is RUN. If the rehab center is located in a building that is managed by a reasonably conscientious landlord, that would help, for instance. Or, if such a center is funded well enough that staff are trained to ensure that residents are sticking to their programs (e.g. residents can not get away with repeatedly trying to purchase drugs on the very STREET that the halfway house is located on). Or, moroever, if residential staff could count on being able to call the police and report that illegal drug dealers and/ or drug users kept showing up on or near their premises with the intent of enticing the residents to buy and use drugs…In other words, these seem to be the real issues, not that people are prejudiced per se against folks in a rehab program. If there are people in the program who are serious about their recovery and are lucky enough to have landed a slot in such a program, look at the disservice being done to THEM, too!

  • el stevo September 10, 2007, 3:08 PM

    Lower Garden was never really that safe a hood. You’d think it’d be a bit safer now that the projects are gone, but I don’t think it has gotten much safer. I go to the Saint every now and then and each time there are a some seriously sketchy-ass crack dealers doing business right outside the bar and down the street.

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