Neighborhood Watch Meeting: Sept.12, 6-7pm, The Cube, 8371 E Northfield Blvd.
Learn how Neighborhood Watch can keep your community safer.
Max Gross, a union carpenter, and his wife Arwen Johnson, a family practice physician, had just returned from an eight-day trip to Michigan. They were happy to be home, but tired, so Max wasn’t surprised when he woke up on Monday, July 8 and discovered his sliding-glass door was open. “My cousin and her boyfriend are staying with us, so I just assumed someone forgot to close it.” It wasn’t until he went to his garage and discovered his GMC Sierra was gone that he realized they’d been burglarized. “That’s when the open sliding-glass door meant something.”
The cops dusted their house and matched the prints to two juveniles who were pulled over in Gross’s truck. Clear evidence linking the minors to the crime, however, did not result in swift justice. They were released after the cops couldn’t find a parent or guardian to give consent for questioning. Arrest warrants were issued, and two-and-a-half weeks later, one of them was apprehended; however, at least one, and maybe more, are still at large. Because they’re juveniles, Gross and Johnson remain much in the dark about what’s happening with their case. “I feel like we were robbed by ghosts,” says Gross.
They were pretty destructive ghosts. Besides the physical damage—the front of his truck was smashed, the hood was caved in, there were cigarette burns in the dash and trash everywhere—there’s also an emotional toll. “It’s upsetting,” Gross admits. “I honestly loved that truck; I only had it for six months. It was going to be the truck I was going to drive forever, but now, I want to sell it. When I see another truck in the neighborhood that’s identical, I swear, I get triggered. I didn’t think I was the type to get shook, but I’ve bolted up in the middle of the night. I’m vigilant now. I ask people who they are and what they’re doing in the neighborhood.”
Gross and Johnson aren’t the only ones with a newfound sense of vigilance. In the span of just eight days starting in early August, DPD investigated 19 burglaries, but the crime spree might be over as quickly as it began. DPD has filed criminal charges on several juveniles and linked them to at least 10 cases of burglary/auto theft; it remains unclear if Gross’s ghosts are among those in custody. They also apprehended Roderick Myles, a 33-year-old whose Facebook page includes a number of pot-smoking selfies as well as the acronym G.I.B.A.M. (Get It By Any Means). He’s currently being held as 13 counts of burglary, four counts of attempted burglary, and two counts of criminal trespass are being investigated.
Despite the recent drama, DPD’s crime statistics show burglaries are actually down in Stapleton. Since 2018, however, Stapleton has seen a rise in rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. To address community safety concerns, DPD co-hosted a meeting with Councilman Herndon on August 15. Chief among the concerns was the belief that DPD is understaffed and unprepared to respond to increasingly violent crimes in a growing population. Chief Pazen pushed back on that notion, stating that staffing for District 5 has increased 52 percent since 2013, and response times have decreased from an average of 14 minutes to just over 11. Pazen and his team also reiterated the importance of locking doors. Of all the recent burglaries, a whopping 81 percent of them were crimes of opportunity; of the 19 incidents for which Myles is being investigated, only five involved forced entry.