Coffee heat rising

Life on the West Side…

Lest you think I’m crazy because I drive across the city to do my grocery shopping…

This incident happened where the closest Costco resides. There’s also a Walmart and a Target in that shopping center. I feel distinctly unsafe in that parking lot, although the Costco gas station seems OK — because Costco hires a guy to stand out there and keep watch. The area around the Target does not. Wouldn’t get out of my car on the Walmart side, not on a bet.

That shopping center is on Conduit of Blight Blvd, a ribbon of slum running from the downtown area all the way up to North Phoenix, many, many miles. That garden parkway is flanked by blight, decay, and slum from where it starts, near the state capitol, all the way up to the 101 freeway in the North Valley. This Circle K, scene of a milder incident, is within the Conduit of Blight corridor — about 5 blocks from CoB itself.

Why anyone would go into any convenience store — be it a Circle K or a QT or whatever — escapes me. Those places seem to be perennial targets, no matter where they’re located. There sure are plenty of them along Conduit of Blight, though. Here in the ’Hood, a few weeks ago we had an incident where a guy shot a transient for stumbling into a Circle K women’s room after the guy’s daughter. Killed him dead. The transient, that is.

Moving to the Pointe Tapatio by way of adding distance from Conduit of Blight may not solve the problem. The entire city is pretty crime-ridden. Here’s a fine adventure that happened in Litchfield Park, a far-flung suburb where middle-class folk move specifically to get away from this sh!t.

The solution, if there is one, may be to move out of this overcrowded and still bloating city. If you don’t want to live with criminals, stay out of the fifth-largest city in the country.

Ominous development

This afternoon the head of our neighborhood association sent this interesting report from one of the residents:

My family and I live in the northwest part of the R*** P*** neighborhood. At 5:15 pm my five children were home together as their dad was working and I’d gone to a school function—about 20 minutes after I left with a girlfriend, whose son was also at my house, a beat-up black Cadillac or that type of car pulled up right in front of our driveway and one man got out and came to the door while three others waited in the car. My oldest daughter (15) watched the man come up to our front door and knock—she didn’t recognize him and got the little ones (4, 3, 19 months) together in my oldest son’s room (11). My son’s room is right next to the front door and he could see the man, in his 20’s, white, buzz cut with light brown or reddish hair and wire glasses. He was also wearing a green shirt that said “Carp” on the back. My daughter said the man didn’t seem too clean and had nothing in his hands to suggest selling something. She said the passengers saw her through our front window and one in the back seat was texting on the phone. The man knocked and then rattled the doorknob for approx 7 to 10 minutes. The man looked into my son’s room through the window and my oldest daughter shut all the shutters and curtains and called the police, but the man and his friends left before the police arrived. My daughter saw the car turn around and drive towards 19th ave. Luckily, we have an alarm and my daughter set it after the police left so she could feel a little safer.

My girlfriend and her son and me and my children were all in my front yard for about an hour before we left to go to the school function, so it makes me think our house was being watched. The odd part is that we had two cars parked in front of our house, so it did look like someone was home. (Normally the cars aren’t there.) Then again, the man definitely saw my daughter and son and heard the younger ones. It seems he wanted in the house.

I’m only going into so much detail because of course I feel terrible that I wasn’t home, but also because it seems like our house was targeted. I’m concerned that these people wanted in the house, that it was daylight, there were obviously children home, and in fact a neighbor’s bike was near our front door but it wasn’t taken.

Holy mackerel! That’s one of the scariest stories I’ve heard in the 17 years or so that I’ve lived in this neighborhood. During that time, we’ve had two home invasions that I know of, but neither involved Bad Guys going after a clutch of children.

The northwest section of the neighborhood is not very good. It’s an area that’s been severely thumped by a series of unhappy circumstances: a slummy supermarket that went unregulated by the City despite chronic code violations; a huge, noisy intersection over which the cops like to park their helicopters while chasing perps; proximity to a set of apartments that have been allowed to turn into tenements and to a blighted district that’s your basic war zone; and most recently the corrosive destruction wrought by the unfinished and apparently never-to-be-finished lightrail train tracks. It was harder hit by the depRecession than any other part of the neighborhood, with the result that even more of the housing than before has been turned into rentals—and they already had plenty of weedy, run-down rentals.

Because of the blighted rentals, it’s reasonable to suspect these characters meant to visit one of their drug-dealing colleagues and had the wrong address. On the other hand, if the mother is right in thinking they were being watched, then obviously they knew only children were home. In that case, it’s very creepy.

I walk the dog at night. And when the weather is nice—as it has been today—I like to have my doors and windows open. Guess I’m going to have to rethink those behaviors…