At this point, I have written approximately fifteen blog posts about the crime, drug use, drug dealing, theft, and vandalism in downtown Dickinson, North Dakota where I live.
I have covered what got stolen from me, how it got stolen, what got stolen from others, the security cameras I installed, videos from my security cameras, calling the Police, how the Police responded, who got caught, the “Drug House”, and the indicators of thieving about to take place.
In the past year, on four different occasions, myself and my neighbors witnessed people walking beside our vehicles with their cell phone held out in front of them, video recording what was inside our vehicles, so that they could review it later to determine whether the vehicle doors were locked, was there a car alarm, and what was worth stealing. One time this summer, the Police did catch and arrest one of these people about one hour after he was seen videoing our vehicles. He was arrested in our neighborhood following a domestic dispute, for fleeing, eluding, resisting arrest, and other charges.
The last three times that myself and my neighbors witnessed someone walking beside our vehicles while video recording, we followed them and watched them from a distance, trying to find out where they were going or where they lived. When we were spotted by these people while following them, these people did not show up on our city block again.
In the past, I have had some difficulty when I called the Dickinson Police dispatch, because what I was reporting to the dispatcher did not appear to be a crime to them, such as someone video recording what is inside of our vehicles, or someone who does not live in our apartment building walking around the parking lot. Now, I often hesitate to call the Police, because it mostly does not turn out well, the dispatcher does not understand what I am trying to tell them, why I am calling them, or what I want.
What I want, and why I am calling, is for the Police to come right now and hopefully catch these people in the act of doing what they are doing. Even if they don’t have any stolen property on their person at the moment, the Police can at least get their I.D., learn who they are, and get a look at them so that they can recognize them in the future. If anything, this would at least be a deterrent to these people stealing in this neighborhood.
Yesterday at 3:00 p.m. I went outside of my apartment building to my vehicle. I needed to move some tools from one vehicle to another. At that time, I noticed a person wearing black pants, black jacket, and a black hoodie pulled up over their head. They had a bright orange scarf covering their face, and they were wearing a backpack that had a bright orange bottom.
When I first noticed this person, they were on the other side of the street from me, walking in a haphazard, hesitating manner. Because they were thin with a slight build, and they seemed to be unsure in what they were doing, I believed that this person was in their late teens. I have seen this behavior before, where a person walking on foot really does not have somewhere that they need to be, and they do not have somewhere that they are trying to get to, and they have no legitimate purpose for being in the area, they appear to be lost, uncertain where they are going, stopping, starting, looking around, hesitating, changing directions.
I stopped attempting to move any tools out of my vehicle, because this person was acting suspicious, and I didn’t want them to see that I had any property in my vehicle, or what I had. They crossed over to my side of the street, stopped, and looked at my apartment building entrance doors, and acted like they were going to try to enter onto the property. They began moving like they were going onto the property, then stopped, then changed direction to continue heading south on the sidewalk. Maybe they saw that there was a security system company sign on the apartment building door, or that there was a magnetic scanner and a magnetic lock on the door.
This seemed strange to me, for a person to briefly act like they intended to enter an apartment building after walking there, as if this was their destination, but then turn away and continue walking on, like this was not their destination.
The very next house that this person came to, was a large two-story house on a double lot that had a for “For Rent” sign out in front of it, that was currently vacant. This person stopped at the driveway, looked at the house, then stepped into the driveway a few steps, then came out and kept walking south on the sidewalk in a hesitating, halting, no destination, no business being in this neighborhood kind of way.
The next house that this person came to, it had a “For Rent” sign in front of it, and it was currently vacant. He stopped, waited, looked around, and then he walked up the driveway to this house. At this point I didn’t know if this person was looking for a vacant house to break into in order to have a place to stay, or looking for whatever he could steal from a house where there was no one home.
Readers from other parts of the country, or women, would probably like to interject that maybe this young man was looking for a house to rent. Dickinson is a town in the oil field of North Dakota. One bedroom apartments typically rent for $700 to $1,000 per month. There aren’t any teenagers renting 4BR/3BA houses in Dickinson.
I called the Police dispatcher, and I said that I wanted to report a suspicious acting person. I described what this person was doing, and I gave a description of the person. As I was explaining all of this to the Police dispatcher, this person exited the vacant rental house driveway, and began walking north, back toward the apartment building where I live.
I tried to watch and keep sight of this individual while I waited for the Police to show up. I saw that this person had now removed their bright orange scarf that was covering their face, and that they had now put their jacket on over top of the backpack that they were wearing. This person walked past the apartment building where I live, he turned the corner at the next cross street, and he continued walking west.
At the middle of this city block, there is a small employer-owned apartment building where only employees of this company live. This building is more like individually owned condominium units, because nothing is for rent, and only residents have access keys to enter this building. This building property and its small parking lot are dead-end, the building property abuts the yards and fences of the neighboring single-family homes. This is where the suspicious acting person turned into, and he walked through this and other people’s private property.
He cut through this apartment building dead-end private property, and about five minutes later, I saw that he was now back near the vacant rental house adjacent to the apartment building where I live. He continued walking east.
When the Police Officer arrived, about ten minutes after I had called the Police dispatch, the last time I had seen the suspicious acting person was about two minutes ago. I told the Police Officer what direction and street the person was walking on. The Police Officer drove around the neighborhood, but wasn’t finding him. I got in my vehicle and I drove around looking for him too, but I didn’t see him anywhere either.
I was upset and frustrated. If you lived in downtown Dickinson, and you had your vehicle stolen like I did, had $2,500 worth of tools and equipment stolen like I did, had your mountain bike stolen, had multiple attempted thefts of property like I did, your neighbors had their houses and vehicles broken into, and you kept seeing people walking by your vehicles video recording what was in them so that they could come back and steal it later, you wouldn’t like people who didn’t live on your city block and had no business being on your block, loitering around for no apparent reason other than to break into a house and steal.
Today, when I had the chance, I called my neighbor Matt to tell him that he needed to quit leaving his doors unlocked because I had seen a suspicious acting person wandering around the neighborhood yesterday. Matt said, “You know, it’s funny you should say that. Yesterday evening I thought that I heard noises coming from one of the vacant houses next door, like someone had gotten into one of them. I swore it sounded like someone was in there.”