Everybody talks about crime, but...
Nobody does anything about it, to paraphrase Mark Twain: You might say that applies to video surveillance cameras. At last week's NONPAC meeting, Lt. Eddie Selby told how valuable the NOPD has found video cameras mounted outside businesses or residences to be in solving crimes, noting he'd like to have a database of citizens in the French Quarter and Marigny Triangle who have surveillance cameras. NOcrimeline agreed to poll our subscribers to try to compile such a database. Out of nearly 500 subscribers, we got exactly ONE response locating a camera.
Does this mean no one really cares about crime? Does it mean they're too lazy to respond? Or are we all overestimating the number of video surveillance cameras in the Quarter? One person suggested that owners are reluctant to come forward because such cameras are prohibited by the Vieux Carre Commission.
That may have been true at one time, but in April the VCC, recognizing that "security cameras have proliferated" in the Quarter and "serve a wide variety of security functions, and, if selected and located properly, will intrude minimally upon the historic streetscape," adopted a policy "designed to limit the intrusive nature of these fixtures and to outline compatible equipment and methods for their proper installation."
The regulations don't seem to be too onerous, but Lary P. Hesdorffer, executive director of the VCC, notes that "a permit is required BEFORE cameras are installed (or replaced)." (That "or replaced" sounds like an out for those who put up cameras before obtaining VCC permission.) The easiest way to go if you want to install surveillance cameras might be to look in the Yellow Pages under "Security Control Equipment" and hire a contractor who could supply and install the equipment, after first getting the necessary VCC permit for you. If you're handy and want to do it yourself, one person who does have a camera installation in the Quarter says Wal-Mart has a good system. If you want a of copy the VCC regulations, NOcrimeline can send you those in PDF format--just email us your request.
But if you ALREADY have surveillance cameras installed, how about letting us know so we can supply that information to the 8th District NOPD. Your cameras might help solve a crime--isn't that what this is all about?
Another saying...: You know how they say a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime? Well, that did one crook in the other night.
It had been one of the quietest weeks in recent memory, crimewise, until Wednesday evening (6.20.07) just after 9:30 p.m. A man and woman, who live in the 1200 block of Esplanade Avenue, were walking on Esplanade Avenue near Royal Street, when they were robbed. Three black boys, all 16 years old, rode up behind the white couple on bicycles and surrounded them. One of the punks told them, "Y'all know what this is about--give it up!" The woman gave one of the kids her wallet and another kid asked the man for his wallet. The man said he didn't have anything other than his cellphone.
The perpetrators fled on their bikes with only the woman's wallet, but one quickly turned around and came back and asked the man for his cellphone so he couldn't call the police. He didn't have to--an off-duty sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene and nabbed the crook who came back to the scene of the crime.
The other two robbers were picked up later in the 200 block of Bourbon Street. They were all charged with simple robbery, and one was found in possession of crack cocaine. All were from Uptown (2400 block of Louisiana Avenue, 2400 block of Amelia Street, and 200 block of S. Johnson Street). What the hell were they doing in the Quarter? And at what time does the curfew law kick in? It seems like an awfully lot of perpetrators are using bicycles to rob and run--maybe it's time for "bicycle checkpoints" to nab some of these punks.
Rough and tumble robbery: A man is in serious condition at University Hospital with a fractured skull and possible broken neck after being robbed just after 3 a.m. Friday morning (6.22.07) in the 300 block of Bourbon Street. He and several friends (Capt. Hosli, please fix the computer so we can get more information about victims) were walking on Bourbon toward Canal Street when they were approached by 6 or 7 black men who tried to sell them Ecstasy. The victim started to walk away when one of the men pick-pocketed his wallet. The victim tried to get it back when the perpetrator slugged him with his fist on the left side of the head. The victim fell backward and landed on the concrete, suffering the injuries that landed him in the hospital.
The robber and his accomplices fled with the man's wallet. The attacker was a black man, described as 18-20 years old, 5'11" tall, 185 pounds, with ear-length dreadlocks, wearing blue jeans with a white T-shirt that had a colored print logo on it.
Be careful out there: You hate to be suspicious of everyone who doesn't look like you--but you know who the robbers are. If you see a driver in a car with temporary tags, or boys cruising aimlessly on bicycles, or someone following you while you're walking, don't hesitate to call 911 and have them checked out. Some might tell you to use the NOPD's non-emergency number--but it's better to assume you have encountered the enemy and stop them before harm's done.
As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.