South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Crime reports highlight discussion at 16th Ward Arlington Block Watch


April 22, 2008

Crime prevention officer Christine Luffey kicked off the April 14 meeting of the 16th Ward Block Watch in Arlington with local crime statistics.

In the past 30 days, there has been: two armed robbery, one armed person, business burglary, two residential burglary, five criminal mischief, one DUI, one domestic violence, two fire, one harassment, one house of prostitution, one robbery, three simple assault, two stolen vehicle, four theft from auto, two theft from residences, one terrorist threat, and three drug incidents.

Officer Luffey provided more detail on three of the crimes.

A robbery at Chong's Market involving a black male, about 5 ft. 8 in., wearing a ski mask, is under investigation. The suspect had a long gun with which he pounded the register. Mr. and Mrs. Chong were able to flee the store.

Regarding the house of prostitution, in the 2100 block of Spring St., the investigation began after detectives read an ad on the Internet for a nude, full-body massage. The officer called the phone number and made an appointment with “Jessica.”

The next day, April 2, he met her at the Spring St. house. When she agreed to specific sex acts he asked for, and began to disrobe, “Jessica,” a white female and mother, was arrested.

A robbery occurred on April 3 at 4:30 p.m. by males, ages 18-20, on a man walking outdoors. They robbed him of $200, cell phone, and shoes.

To a question from city Councilman Bruce A. Kraus of whether she is a crime prevention officer for the West End, she said she is assigned only to Zone 3.

Officer Luffey thanked everyone who participated in “Biscuits Bingo,” a fundraiser of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police held on April 12. The tenth annual event raised $6,388. All proceeds benefit local animal organizations.

To a question about vehicles, including school buses, not heeding the stop sign at Spring and Eleanor streets, she said if anyone witnesses a serious driving offense, such as passing a school bus, jot down the relevant information, such as time of day and license plate number. Pass that information onto an officer.

But as a witness, they must show up at the hearing.

To a question about whether all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are allowed on the street, she said no, and to call 911 when it occurs. The fine is about $300.

The next speaker was Neil Wheeler, project chief for the 16th and 17th wards, Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI).

The agency regulates the construction, demolition, and occupancy of all buildings. It also reviews, approves, and issues all permits required by code pertaining to buildings and structures.

The BBI also deals with quality of life issues, such as abandoned vehicles.

Block watch president Debbie Neumeyer gave him a list of houses on Arlington Ave., Spring St., and Polone St. which BBI needs to check out and, have take action on.

To a question of who to report violations to, Mr. Wheeler said 311, the city's phone number for government information and non-emergency services.

Callers receive a reference number so they can call back for a follow-up report.

Mr. Kraus said that after calling 311 and receiving a reference number the caller should contact his office with the complaint and reference number. His office will follow up on the call, including letting the caller know the resolution.

Next, a representative of state Rep. Jake Wheatley said next year's agenda will include free income tax service. Asked if she could get someone to do living wills, she said she could not.

As for announcements, the St. Clair Athletic Association will hold a flea market on April 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SCAA. Used and antique items will be sold, with some priced as low as ten cents.

The next block watch meeting will be on June 16 at the SCAA.

“National Night Out” will be held on Aug. 5 from 6 - 8:30 p.m. at the SCAA.


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