Monday, June 10, 2013

Not Baseball! My Crimefighting experiences

So I took a week off from blogging to do some leg work, watching games and catching up on other things that cropped up around the house - including catching a thief!

The neighborhood used to be bad bad bad, we were between the ghetto and the projects - and then there was the bad neighborhood on the other side! We had to stay inside on holidays like July 4th and New Years, not only could you hear the gunfire but often see muzzle flashes and often hear rounds hitting the trees and rooftops around us.

Counting shell casings at Rose Supper Club shooting this fall, just a few blocks away from home!

Our backyard is lined with vintage/antique barbed wire and when we bought the place that fact was a bonus. Since then the war zone has receded dramatically as the good guys have pushed the bad guys out of the urban investment areas.

the Watergate Bldg, more famous but less crime
I helped thwart a burglary when a disgruntled employee broke into an office bldg next door. He was kicking in a ground floor window when we called the MPD, who showed late enough to miss him, but later apprehended the obvious criminal.

That guy didnt have any qualms with making noise on his getting in, and as a result they now have better lighting which I think might have aided the criminal effort if it were there for the original break in!

Scott Street Fire Station
One night I heard a sickening thud and popping noise, and ran out to find one of the old buildings in our block fully engulfed in flame. Called fire dept, which was kind of a joke because the fire was taking place behind a historic building that had been a fire station location!

Current fire crews put out the fire, but the bldg was totally gutted. No info was offered, so I called to inquire and was told that it was probably the work of a homeless person who lost control of their crack pipe lighter.

I suspect it could just as easily been a developer who had sights on ridding the property of an old building without getting permission to demolish. Either way = Arson.

Even more bizarre was the murder attempt on our front porch around 1998.

I heard shouts and quite a noise on the front porch late one summer night and headed out to investigate. I went out the front door and saw headlights, a car was facing the wrong way down our one way street - the doors were standing open and two figures were running towards the house from it.

I stepped out and slammed the door shut behind me. I knew it would lock but at that moment it seemed safer for my family inside. Whatever was happening, I knew I wanted it to stay outside even if I was in trouble for it.

The bushes in front of the porch start shaking violently. A face appears thru them, arms and legs climbing over the railing of our porch, coming at me.

At this point, everything becomes slow-motion, almost a black and white filter during the action of a Tarantino film covers the scene. I know something is happening, but haven't put together what exactly.

I utter my first words of the encounter, also straight from Quentins dialogue - "What THE FUCK is goin on here?!"

There are large yucca plants in front of the porch, its a  giant cactus but doesnt stop the guy climbing thru it to get over the porch rail. The two figures have slowed their approach upon hearing and seeing me on the porch.

I step forward two steps, emboldened by their slowing, and again demand "What THE FUCK is GOIN ON here?!"

The two thugs are brandishing weapons, one has a knife, the other has his hand on a metal object in his jacket but I cant tell if its a gun or knife. I take one step back at this realization and again shout "What THE FUCK is GOIN ON here?!"

The guy climing the porch has made it over and is coming right at me. Between us is a waist deep pile of wooden lathe from the walls we had been replacing. Its a pile of foot long sticks with two nails sticking out of each end, and guy is coming over it at top speed right at me.

I step back again, now my back is against the locked door. Im grabbing one of the sticks as a weapon and this time I address the guy coming right at me with my only line "What THE FUCK is GOIN ON HERE?!"
Not long before the murder attempt, during serious renovation!

Finally I get an answer. Dude coming at me says "They tryin to KILL me!" and dives behind me in an attempt to hide in the doorway.

The two thugs stop and turn, heading back to their car. They slam the doors and speed off. Im left standing on the top step defending the house with a rusty nail protruding from a two foot stick.

I talked with the guy about it a bit, he didnt want to call any cops. I gave him some sweet tea and offered him a sandwich. He turned me down saying he wasn't a bum, he had just been caught going out with a chick the gangstas felt was property. They had chased him for blocks, he on foot them in their car.

That was around '98, and about ten years later I was out in the yard when a guy came walking by. Yes, same dude. He stopped and thanked me for being there, we talked about it and laughed that he knew I was startled but he wasnt gonna stop. He said he was in a bad spot then, but shortly afterwards he had found a good woman and settled down. Now he's raising his own family and it was really heartwarming to get a post-script on that experience.

One night about ten years ago I went into the kitchen at four am and found someone in there. I was SO PISSED! I wasn't scared, I was mad!

I went right at him, he had seen me and ducked down. Not sure why, but he pulled his shirt over his head, maybe he thought that I wouldnt see him if he couldnt see me? lol

Whatever it was, it didnt work. I went at him like a madman, yelling at him to get the hell out and demanding to know what he had taken. I grabbed him by the pants and started forcing him towards the door as I pushed my hands into his pockets, determined to see if he had anything of ours in it. I was going to take whatever he had, even if it wasnt mine!

I kept yelling "Whatta you got? Give me what you got! I dont give a damn if its yours, you come in my house you gonna give it up!"

Damn dude had something too, but I never found out what. He held his hand around something in his pocket! He wasnt bigger than me, so he was easy to shove across the kitchen to the back door. I thought he had come thru it but it was shut and locked, I had a bit of a time getting it open while he struggled - but I kept shouting at him and slammed him against the wall a few times as I fought to get the lock open. Learned later he came in through a window left unlocked next to the back door.

When it did open the door flung wide and I tossed our intruder out onto the porch and then down the back stairs, about an eight foot drop. He bounced pretty easy for an older guy, he was a little gray at the temples and had tried to protest as I shouted at him, saying "oh dont curse at me, yall". I lit into him even harder after that, for breaking in and then not liking what I had to say about it.

Once outside, he took to running and I shouted after him to "Let everyone know, dont come here!" He ran off and I chased but was barefoot and gave up. The cops were called but nothing more came of it. 
Except that we didnt have anyone try to break in around here for a LONG TIME! hahahaha

So Saturday morning I am watching the Giants game - not SF! The Yomiuri Giants of course! They had just taken the lead in the eighth inning when one of the cats would not stop messing with me. He meowed and waved his little arms around - literally!
Phineas, my feline partner in crimefighting!

He convinced me to at least check the food bowls, thats the usual emergency for him!

While in there I heard noises and banging. We usually hear the neighbors in the morning, they have a guy who drives a truck down the driveway we share and clanks around in their storage shed in back before heading out to work. I have warned him if he keeps it up i will call the cops!

But wait.
Its Saturday, he shouldnt be here.
And theres no truck, I always hear it and I sure dont see it.

So I look out there and sure enough, its some thief at work in the back of their place near the basement. I reach and pick up the phone, and next to it is the small vidcam I use for getting video of the baseball game. It sits next to the phone where the charger is plugged in.

I dial up the PD and start the camera, setting it on the window sill with a view of where the guy was. Its not two minutes before I see three police cars and go up front to meet them. The officers who responded were awesome. They were swift and silent, guns drawn. Its obvious after a few moments that they didnt catch him, I worried he would slip away through the open fence on the other side of the neighbors place.

I tell the officers we cant have missed him but by a minute, and offer to go get my camera. The cops are intruiged, but who knows if I even got a shot of him. I go in, pick it up where it is still running and bring it out for review.

I que up the vid and hand it over without seeing it and it was a joy to watch when I saw their faces light up. "Oh, thats a good look" one says, the other officer saying "Oh yeah, we can use this if we can blow it up". I tell them I wasnt sure it would get him in the shot, and that i havent seen it yet. Officer says "Oh yeah, he turns and looks right at you" so I rush in and load it onto the laptop!

Its a pair of vids I am certainly most proud of.

Thief running away
It shows the criminal at work, pulling large pieces of copper tube from an AC unit. Then the second shows the same area with nothing going on. Then, at 3:17 the guy comes out from under the house, in plain view of the camera and looks towards the driveway where MPD has just arrived. The bad guy is wearing a blue top and turns and runs off, you can see every detail of his face and clothing as well as his gait.

Officer arrives 42 seconds later
The best part of the vid? Guy is still in frame, hanging around till he runs off at 3:25 and an MPD officer is seen coming into frame at 4:07. Forty-two second head start is all the guy had.

 After seeing the vid they cruise the streets in the neighborhood looking for who they have seen, a second group of officers show up and ask to see the vid. I bring out my laptop, where I have downloaded the vid from the camera and show it to the Corporal and his assistant. They use cell phones to take pics of the screen captures and within seconds have texted it to every cop in the city.

The wait isnt long, within a minute a reply comes in. Someone recognized him and a suspect is named. Less than five minutes later and that suspect is in custody. I am asked to identify the culprit with a mugshot, but I remind the officers that "I didnt see him, the camera did. You can identify him as well as I can." They liked that!

I was told there had been a rash of copper thefts in the downtown area right around where we are. Each of the officers thanked me, shook my hand, but I was more than impressed with the response and thanked each of them for their work in the community. I was glad they seemed confident the video was good enough to prosecute with.

Seeing the vid of that first cop walking into the unknown moved me, I dont envy that as a job and have nothing but respect for those who protect us. Its an important job, and takes real bravery. I can run a guy out of the kitchen, but I couldn't take a job like that every day.

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