Thursday, April 24, 2008
Crack Heads Break Inside Faster Than I Can Blog (Televisions and Jewelry, This Time)
Things seemed cool enough as I drove around last night. No dealers were hanging on the corners of my block, not even "colorful jacket guy." No prostitutes at 29th and Lyndale, nor 30th. I drove around twice, three times. Then I drove into neighboring blocks, thinking, I will see something so this late night patrol won't be a wasted effort.
I have good luck late at night. The 911 system is not so busy, so calls get answered faster. Stay up late and call in the dealers and prostitutes, I say. Work the system, citizens! I finally noticed a...
..."door board" had been pried off its hinges on my western perimeter, at the end of "Peter and Joy's Block" at 3001 6th Street N. I tried not to be HAPPY about that, but I was oddly pleased to have something to deal with. The house, currently listed at $59,000 (in your dreams, mortgage holder) had a real estate sign in the front yard. Yes, the board had been pried off its hinges, but the door behind it was very sturdy and had not been breached.
I called and left a message for the agent about how the property had been "probed" but not entered. I said I could nail the board back in place if he liked. There was no need to do it immediately, I thought, since the door behind it was so sturdy. (And no, this isn't foreshadowing...I was RIGHT about that door)
I wondered if maybe I was winning. Maybe my block had become a lot more secure and most of the problems had moved on.
In the morning, I called the real estate agent AGAIN. He was glad for the information and accepted my offer to nail up the board rather than sending out an expensive work crew. I inquired about the price. It was still $59,000 but was expected to be reduced "every 30 days" by the owner, some bank.
"On which day of the month?" I asked, and the agent just laughed.
It felt good to be hammering nails in with permission as I secured 3001 6th. When I wrote on the board, I noted "per permission of real estate agent."
While driving away, I noticed a work crew pulled up at the southern perimeter of my block, removing a door board. It appeared to be a man with his two teenage sons, and an honest work truck, really new and adorned with fine features.
I trudged up and made my inquiries. It's easy to say "I watch out for the block, so I am just finding out what is up." People are cool with that. They understand somebody really needs to be doing something like that.
The father/foreman said the house was being listed by an agent and buyers needed to be able to get inside. He said somebody had broken in through the back window. I went back and looked. I could see, yeah, maybe somebody had crawled inside. Maybe. If so, they had done it without breaking the window and secured the window behind them.
I asked if there was any way "contact information" could be put on the exterior of the house, so if something was wrong there would be a number to call. Could he perhaps write the number on the board? The foreman didn't want to do something like that. He said if the agent wanted a sign up, they'd do that. I should watch for a sign.
Uh huh. I'm watching the house against (expletive) crack heads, and you can't even give me a phone number because nobody gave you a specific directive. I tell ya, people complain about the government, but we create our own red tape by failing to exercise common sense. So here's a suggestion for legal reform: all vacant houses must display the working phone number of a responsible contact person on the exterior.
Later, as I sat at a Korean restaurant near the campus, I called Jeffrey Skrenes of the Hawthorne Neighborhood Association to relay some information. To my dismay, I found out a house "just beyond my northern perimeter" had been broken into in the last night or so, and the thieves made off with two televisions and jewelry. The lady who owned the house was thinking of selling it. She'd simply had enough.
It wasn't on my block or my perimeter. It was just beyond. Honestly, I wondered if I had "herded the crack heads north." But what was I supposed to do? Leave "420 31st" open to almost hourly trespass by crack heads and prostitutes?
Jeff asked if maybe I could drop by now and then, to give the person who lived in the burglarized house more of a sense of safety. I said I would, yes, but he'd have to tell her beforehand. I said I was not known as a snappy dresser, and she'd need to have an idea what I looked like so I wouldn't scare the bejeezus out of her.
The crack heads break inside faster than I can blog about it. Things can look quiet and safe for a little while... but they aren't.