May 202014

The NOPD Sixth District station.

The NOPD Sixth District station.

Meeting with a neighborhood group asking for crime-prevention tips, New Orleans Police Department officials added a new twist to their usual lock-your-door and protect-your-valuables warnings: Don’t stare at your smartphone while walking around.

They’re not just worried about your tripping risk. One rationale for leaving your phone in your pocket while you’re on the sidewalk is pretty simple: it can distract you from your surroundings, making it easier for opportunistic criminals to catch you unawares, said NOPD Commander Bob Bardy in a meeting Tuesday night with the Delachaise Neighborhood Association. But for someone walking at night, the glow from the smartphone in the dark will be instantly recognizable to anyone nearby, Bardy said, and perhaps signaling easy prey.

“You’ve got this big blue light that says, ‘Come get me,'” Bardy said.

Smartphone snatching is a particular problem in the French Quarter, Bardy said, but people walking around with their phones visible have been victims in several Uptown robberies as well.

Bardy’s comments were part of a broader presentation on crime trends in the Delachaise area on Tuesday night. Property crimes have been plaguing the Sixth District for weeks, despite a number of arrests of suspected burglars and thieves, said Lt. Frank Young of the district’s investigative unit.

Property crimes are usually driven by repeat offenders, Young said, citing the case of a couple arrested several months ago in the neighborhood who pleaded guilty to a total of 16 counts of auto break-ins. Gamaliel D. Patterson, 30, accepted a sentence of 12 years in the cases based on his prior record, but co-defendant Tracy Skipper, 19, was given probation as a first-offender — and she was arrested in connection with auto burglaries again last week, Young said.

The trends in play seem to be a rash of daytime residence burglaries in the Irish Channel area and nighttime auto break-ins around the Delachaise corridor, Young said. The Sixth District’s detectives are actively investigating each case, he said, as well as employing targeted patrols in hoes of catching the burglars in the act.

“Believe me, this has become priority number one,” Young said. “We’re fortunate to be down in violent crime to concentrate on this.”

Detectives have also submitted evidence in several of the crimes for DNA testing, which is becoming more widely used in everyday crimes such as thefts and burglaries.

“We are actually starting to do some remarkable stuff with DNA,” Bardy said.

Bardy and Young thanked the residents for their use of private surveillance cameras, noting the increasing numbers cases that have been solved with video. In many cases, detective work can only go so far — but a camera image can make a huge difference.

“It came from you guys,” Bardy said. “It was your cameras that gave us pictures.”

Bardy invited all the residents to his weekly meeting of ranking officers, held every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. At the meetings, they review all the crimes from the preceding week, and they are open to the public — so he urged the association to send a representative.

“If you have a question, you can talk to one of the detectives for an update,” Bardy said.

Finally, the officers reiterated their most usual plea to residents: Lock your homes and cars at night. Three of the last four home burglaries had their doors unlocked, as did four of the last auto burglaries.

“Secure the vehicles,” Bardy said. “Please don’t leave your laptop on the front seat or your backpack.”

  • Cmb6091

    advice as to stop using your phone in public is a stone throw away from not wearing expensive jewelry or accessories. Police are just throwing in the towel at this point until Serpas decides to hire people. Every time preservationist or local activist oppose commercial developments in this town, remember that the consequences of less tax revenues are police telling you to stop using your phone in public unless you want to be a victim. We do not have the luxury to oppose any developments in Orleans Parish as 2 consent decrees and firefighter pension costs are only going to make things worse.

    • QuienesSomos

      Mitch is that you trolling the message boards again?

  • best_in_show

    The CONSTANT use of devices, night and day, is something we cannot change. Many people are ADDICTED to these devices and cannot live without “being in touch” 24/7. All we can do is gently remind them that they are asking for trouble by not being aware of their surroundings and advertising their cluelessness. At night the streets look as if large fireflies are buzzing around. TOURISTS do not even SEE the city or enjoy what New Orleans has to offer. Beautiful architecture and our special ambience goes completely unnoticed. This is, perhaps to some, an annoyance we just have to live with. My own pleasure of living here are the sights and sounds of my neighborhood and the enjoyment of actually interacting with the city. But, just try to ignore the ignorant and be happy that you are not addicted.

    • disqus_LUcJwwHDPb

      I think this should be easy advice to follow. Instead of complaining afterwards that someone robbed you. You can always get robbed, obviously, but why not take some precautions instead of only blaming crime on the lack of police?

      • best_in_show