Tag: crime

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‘You Are Being Watched’

Funny how the intention for taking a photo isn’t the reason for publishing it—as is the case with the Featured Image, captured yesterday using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 5:26 p.m. PDT. The crusty, “Criminal Beware” sign struck me as really funny—no deterrent at all—and I planned to wisecrack about how the old, neglected thing would frighten off nobody. Then my wife got into the final frame, and everything changed.

She stopped to check her mileage (from walking), while I fumbled with the camera. I really like the synchronicity of her dipped head and hat with the cloaked villain’s posture. Her presence lends perspective, too—how ridiculously high off the ground is the warning. I have passed by that intersection, at Mississippi and Monroe, hundreds of times and hadn’t before noticed the sign. If a posting doesn’t register with residents, will criminals scouting people and places at eye-level see it—or even care? By the way, newer “Neighborhood Watch” signs are lower.

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The Incident in University Heights

When working with other journalists, I always advise: “Write what you know to be true”—or, lifting Star Trek lingo, obey the “Prime Directive“. That brief introduction frames what follows based on what I directly heard, observed, and photographed.

Our story starts some minutes around 11 a.m. PDT today, when emergency vehicles roar down the street where we live and others nearby. A police helicopter begins circling overhead, announcing search for a suspect, with his description, and instruction to call 911 if seen. I look out my window, to see police officers standing over someone handcuffed and facedown on the pavement—the Featured Image, captured at 11:06 a.m. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; all photos aperture manually set, from Leica Q2. Interesting aside: The takedown happens where once stood the block’s majestic palm tree, before being cut down nearly four weeks ago.

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The Bicycle

My wife typically goes to bed and rises earlier than do I. When getting up to feed the cats, Cali and Neko, Annie saw bicycle handlebars sticking up behind a parked car; about 3:30 a.m. PDT. She assumed that one of the apartment building’s other tenants had a visitor who left the bike locked on the sidewalk. But daylight revealed a wayward fixed-speed roadster, apparently abandoned and unlocked. We both wondered where it came from and how in a neighborhood rife with bicycle thieves no one had ridden off with the thing.

Someone stole two of our then three bikes from a locked garage, in February 2010. Annie sees frequent posts on Nextdoor about bikes taken from behind locked fences or about neighbors reporting random two-wheeler chop shops. We wondered where the women’s rider came from. Perhaps someone, ah-hum, borrowed—then abandoned—it?

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Tragedy Beneath the Golden Arches

Overnight, an assailant shot and killed a 59 year-old man in the parking lot outside the McDonald’s at El Cajon Blvd and Texas Street in University Heights. Shootings are rare, if ever, in my San Diego neighborhood, so the incident is shocking. As I write, little is publicly known—other than police seeking a white man in his 40’s driving a SUV. Given the number of traffic cams—at the least of surveillance—the vehicle’s license plate could be identified.

I know the McDonald’s well. When still alive, my father-in-law liked to eat lunch there—especially Fillet Fish Fridays, when sandwiches were discounted. My wife or I might drive him there two or three days a week. Before renovations that started around the time of his death in January 2017, I would see many regular customers, such as the three older gents gathered to gab—often for hours—or another man who religiously read his Bible. They vanished with the remodeling, which did away with the cozy booths and replaced them with trendy tables that encourage eating and leaving rather than hanging around.

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Someone Tried to Steal Bruce

As my wife and I walked along Monroe today, a voice called from behind: “Hey, there’s something I have to tell you about Bruce“—not an exact quote but the gist is right. She approached, with her dog leashed and the tabby trotting behind. He was profiled for my “Cats of University Heights” series in May 2017.

Three days ago, someone came pounding frantically on her door, agitated: “Something happened to Bruce”. The tiger tabby likes to hang out and watch the kids at a nearby daycare, and he had stretched out on the sidewalk waiting for them to come outdoors to play. They didn’t, as the place is temporarily closed—along with most other businesses in the city because of state and county orders that everyone should “stay at home” as a means of slowing spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19.