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Posted on Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Daughter of store owner robbed at gunpoint: 'Our family has been robbed over and over again'

By Ryan J. Stanton

Esther Choi says there have been countless times when members of her family had their lives threatened while simply trying to run their Ann Arbor business.

Choi, whose family owns the Broadway Party Store at 1027 Broadway St., said an April 9 incident in which her father was robbed at gunpoint was the final straw.

"This store has been in my family for over 30 years, and during these 30 years, our family has been robbed over and over again," she said. "In the last 10 years, my father has been robbed at least six times, all involving some sort of deadly weapon."


Esther Choi speaks with John Seto, Ann Arbor's interim police chief, during a break in Monday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Speaking before the Ann Arbor City Council Monday night, she recalled a time when her grandfather, the original store owner, was taken to the hospital after being attacked and robbed. She recalled another time when her father chased after perpetrators, and when her mom had a knife held to her neck.

"We need your help. We need more protection and focuses on our cases," she said. "These are not petty crimes. These are life-threatening, violent crimes."

Choi, visibly frustrated over what she sees as a lack of resolve in those cases, asked council members to help address what's happening.

"I'm imploring you to please help me devise a plan to make this area of Ann Arbor safer," she said, calling for more police presence in the area. "We are asking AAPD to please focus on our cases in order to bring these criminals to justice."

Council members made no public remarks in response to Choi, who spoke during the general public comment period. Later speaking against a proposal to add more police officers in the city's budget, Mayor John Hieftje noted crime in Ann Arbor is trending downward.

John Seto, the city's interim police chief, spoke with Choi for several minutes during a break in the meeting at one point.

Seto said he was planning to set up a meeting with Choi and her family to update them on the case. He said he couldn't speak specifically about the April 9 incident.

"I'm going to meet with them and I'm going to meet with the detective and the officers and we'll see what we can do," Seto said. "We'll get some attention in the area."

Ann Arbor police last month released the security camera footage of the brazen robbery at the party store, showing a masked man pointing a sawed-off shotgun directly at Choi's father, who was getting ready to close the store for the night at the time.

The video shows two men walking up to Choi's father, one wearing a mask that looks like a skull and holding a shotgun, and taking cash and liquor.

The first man was described as black, about 5-feet-10 inches tall and thin, wearing a white coat with a white mask, police said. The second man was described as black, about 5-feet-5 inches tall and wearing a gray mask, police said.

Seto said he couldn't say with certainty whether there's a crime problem in the area where the store is located, just a short distance from downtown over the Broadway bridges.

"I'd have to look into that, but I don't believe so at this time," he said.

Choi, who said her family is deeply rooted in Ann Arbor, was critical of the Ann Arbor Police Department in her remarks Monday night. She said it sometimes takes up to 25 minutes for police to arrive, which she questioned given that the police station is 0.7 miles away.

Once they arrive on the scene after a robbery, Choi said, the police take descriptions, collect evidence and then leave, never to return with a positive resolution to the case.

Choi said her father has called the police department for help each time after being robbed, even providing evidence such as a suspect's finger prints.

"Each time, the police failed to find the suspects involved," she said, adding her family members have tried to take matters into their own hands to defend themselves.

"We have been residents of Ann Arbor for over 30 years," she said. "We know that the Ann Arbor community does not stand for this kind of behavior in our city."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:04 a.m.

The Mayor and the City Council are merely a symptom of a larger problem. The AA voters keep voting these folks into office -- and expect different results! Insanity. I was a resident of AA in the past, and I found my neighbors nice people overall but liberal, naive, and gullible. The panhandlers that my neighbors were giving money to during the day were breaking into their homes at night. These neighbors always seemed to have trouble connecting the dots. Dodo birds come to mind.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 9:58 a.m.

not sure where people are getting the idea that surrounding liquor stores have "protection" of any sort... there's a liquor store right across the street (on maiden lane/broadway) that is open later than this store and has not had any incidents. Also, main st. liquor/the beer depot/kroger/busch's all sell alcohol and there's no protective glass at any of those places. The only reason this store is being targeted is because there's nothing around it (other than northside grille which closes pretty early)

Kara Zimmerman

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

I work in Ann Arbor, and due to the end of a relationship, I had to find a new place to live. As a single woman, I realized that there was NO place in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti that I felt safe moving to (that wasn't outrageously priced, of course). Either drug deals were known to occur in the area, people had been shot or mugged, people had been raped, or homes had been burglarized. As such, I chose to commute forty miles each way rather than feel unsafe where I lived. I've also noticed a HUGE increase in graffiti on the west side of Ann Arbor- at one point, an entire house on Miller had been covered in graffiti. The desirability of a community rests upon a foundation of safety. Continuing to bulldoze this foundation by cutting back on the police department will ultimately destroy everything.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

My suggestion to the owners on top of the getting armed and trained. At the VERY least, get a remote lock on your doors. Leave it locked during low volume periods where you have to buzz in patrons. That would force you to get on alert for anyone coming in and not leave you behind the curve for this type of robbery again. Back this up with at least a second person in the store, again preferably one that is armed and trained especially during opening, closing and late hours. Cheap and easy fixes in the short term...


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

@ Alex, Where did I suggest a metal detector? That would be a dumb waste of resources. First step to winning any confrontation is planning ahead and second is maintaining situational awareness. Review the video. These creeps came in with the gun already out and got the drop on the owner who was distracted. How do you prevent that from happening again? How do you help stack the odds for the owner and employees or family in the future. Security is about layers and stacking the deck. If the first step is planning, do you have any relevant suggestions? Or do you suggest they do nothing?


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 10:01 a.m.

so even if they had to buzz people in how are they supposed to know if the people are hiding a gun? Should they walk through a metal detector first??

Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

one can almost visualize the city council AND the mayor putting their fingers in their ears and repeating "I can't hear you, I can't hear you, i can't hear you....." The police are not at fault. they are spread way too thin as it is. blame the geniuses who put up the fancy new city hall, while cutting police/fire services!


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 10 a.m.

more like "I can't hear you, i can't hear you... let's spend a ridiculous amount of money on art instead of protection!!"


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

These suggestions to buy a gun are only useful for people who are competant at using one and willing to use it. In this case, these guys appeared out of nowhere and it is unlikely the store owner could have pulled his up and got off a shot before the robber could. I have a better suggestion. Get a good guard dog. Robbers don't want to have to deal with a large dog. Sure they could shoot the dog but that attracts a lot of a attention so they are quite likely to choose another target.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

Bullet resistant glass > a dog.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

To the 463 people who advise that the aged proprietor buy a gun: If you take the time to watch the video, he would have to have the door under continual cover, from his stool behind the cash register, perhaps with a tripod assist so his arms don't get tired. Unless he's REALLY FAST ON THE DRAW. Clearly the logical defense would be some kind of foot-triggered trap-door, and a pit filled with trained killer chickens, or a large poisonous lizard, at least


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

No, cars don't get stolen around the park because most people park in the lots gated in and owned by Olympia entertainment, it has nothing to do with the cops. If you park your car on the street, anywhere in the detroit, leave it unlocked and with the keys in the ignition there is a good chance it won't be there when you return. In this situation there would be nothing to even alert the cops that your car was being stolen - given it was unlocked and the keys left in the ignition. You could do that right in front of a cop and they wouldn't have any idea.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

That depends on where you park for the Tigers game. If you're in the general vicinity of Comerica Park, I'll bet your car would still be there when you return. Why? Because that's the area of Detroit where everyone knows the police will be, on days when the Tigers are playing.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Or simply bullet proof glass with a shotgun under the counter. The fact remains he is complaining of continually being robbed yet has done nothing to prevent continually being robbed. Obviously it's not his fault he's being robbed but he can, and should, do things to protect himself and shouldn't be shocked when he doesn't do these things that people keep taking advantage of that. You don't think that these guys who keep robbing him know that it takes 30 seconds, a gun and a getaway car in order to make a quick few hundred dollars? No amount of police presence is going to change that fact. The owner of the store has to change that. If I leave my keys in my car ignition while I watch a Tiger's game in Detroit; I shouldn't be shocked to find it stolen when I come back. It's not my fault someone was low-life enough to steel it, but it is my fault that I didn't take the necessary steps to prevent the opportunity from even existing (taking my keys and locking the door). Similarly, you lock your doors at night don't you? Or should we just have a police guard standing in front of everyone's unlocked front door making sure no one walks in and cleans the place out? All the "buy a gun" people are saying, myself included, is that the store owner needs to be responsible for his own safety. This can be done in many different ways; owning a gun included.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

Concealed carry nothing. What about if people just started wearing sidearms in the open ("open carry") as they went about their business in Ann Arbor? Now that would *really* send a message to the city leadership about our faith in their "vision" for police protection. The mayor could then go on TV to explain why there were so many people walking around Art Fairs wearing firearms on their hips. I'd pay to see that. And that is what we call "doin' it up different"!


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

I carry concealed. Not opposed to OC, but please make sure you have a level 2 or 3 holster


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:43 a.m.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:02 a.m.

there's a bunch of people saying that where this took place is a bad part of town and it really isn't. I live right around the corner and this is the only crime i've ever heard of around here. Just because one store gets robbed by two punks doesn't make the surrounding area a "bad place"


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

I didn't say this particular store was a 24hour store - it was meant more to compare stores that are open later in the night. The reason this party store is getting hit is because there is no foot traffic in and around the store. No, party stores on State Street don't need protective glass. Heck, party stores surrounded by apartments and other businesses don't need protective glass. But a party store that's been hit more than 1 time needs protective glass. There isn't much of an argument there. This isn't even about 2nd amendment rights. It's about this guy being responsible for his own protection and his own businesses protection. It's obvious the criminals keep targeting him because he is such an easy target.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 9:56 a.m.

just one more thing... being a regular beer drinker i cannot for the life of me think of one party store around me that has protective glass. Once you head into Ypsi you'll see a bit but Main Street Liquor has none, the liquor store kitty-corner from this store doesn't, nor does The Beer Depot (or Kroger/Busch's for that matter which are both open later than this store). I'm interested where you are getting information from or if you do actually live anywhere near ann arbor.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 9:54 a.m.

also, this party store closes WAY earlier than any other in the area... i don't know where you read it was 24 hours...


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 9:53 a.m.

i believe the true reason is that there's nothing on either side of the store... the liquor store kitty-corner to it has no protection and has not had any incidents. Please don't use this as an excuse for 2nd amendment laws.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

It's not a bad area at all. In all likelihood these guys drove in from somewhere else. But this party store is probably being hit because it doesn't hardly do anything to protect itself from these kinds of things. Most 24h party stores you go into have a protective glass shield. They do this for a reason. No people walking around at night leaves you open to things that a normal store, open during the day, doesn't have to face. While not a bad part of town, the streets are deserted at night unlike other parts of the city. Add on to that, that every other party store around the area has this protective glass and you get a perfect place to rob, over and over and over.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 6:15 a.m.

If i had a shotgun pointed at my face I really hope that the police wouldn't take 25 minutes to get to me. I understand that there has been a lot of cuts on the force but in a low crime city like Ann Arbor they really should have responded sooner.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 6:20 a.m.

it's disgusting to watch the mayor spend 750k on a (in my opinion) horrible looking statue and then say there's no money for cops.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

lets keep this real simple. Buy a gun, use the gun. the cowards will get the message loud and clear.

Let me be Frank

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

The real crime is that the mayor and council are so out of touch with reality and their priorities for Ann Arbor reflect that. Sounds like a ripe situation for a few recalls, don't we think? We pay taxes for public safety so that citizens and business owners do not have to have a concealed weapons permit or to carry a weapon openly withou a permit. But we all have got to do waht we have to do to make it safe for ourselves and our families...Isn't that right, Dr. Maslow!

Ann English

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:06 a.m.

Keep up providing us videos such as those grouped above from around the country,; it used to be that only conservative newspapers told of people defeating would-be armed robbers and not getting charged with crimes themselves.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

I'm surprised that this has happened so often. One might install a parking lot camera to get a plate number after being robbed once.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

The debate about whether police staffing levels actually deter crime is an interesting one. However, a better-staffed department is going to solve more crimes, without question. When officers have time to get to know the areas they patrol in, they also get to know people who tell them things. They become very familiar with who the problem people are, who those people hang with, and who in the community underbelly knows what about whom. This is the info needed to solve crimes. If officers are rarely on the street, if they never have time to strolling from shop to shop or talk up homeless people and beggars, etc., because they are simply running from call to call to court to call, this knowledge does not develop and crimes don't get solved. Ann Arbor has a setup that's common in bigger places, where officers on the street don't actually work the reports they take...most everything that requires follow-up gets assigned to a detective. Officers who don't know how to work a case, because they never have to, don't do the same kind of job as an officer who knows the case is his/hers, start to finish. With so many fewer detectives than officers, detectives are forced into a "triage" mentality, where only the biggest/worst/newest get attention. It's not their fault, one guy can only do so much in a day. Something has to change for the community to see improvement.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Meant to type "...never have time to "stroll" from shop to shop..." : )


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

.....The Liberal mentality of AA makes a great place for criminals, aka "criminal empowerment zones"......Wake-up people !!!Why do you think we have a 2nd amendment???...


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Mayor Hieftje says crime is down. Of course it is. Fewer police mean fewer arrests. It is that simple. When AAPD is stretched so horribly thin, they don't make as many traffic stops, they issue fewer patrols and fail to catch people committing crimes. If those go unreported, then crime goes down. Theoretically, with no police, no crime because there is no one to report it to. Wake up folks. Until we return AAPD to their former levels, small business owners can expect more of the same. Put pressure on the the council to start funneling funds back into law enforcement or you could be the one with a shotgun in your face when someone decides your watch looks expensive.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

"Welcome to HieftjeTown. Please enjoy the Kool-Aid." Bumper sticker anyone?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

It wasn't meant to be racist, because it isn't. For the historically-challenged, feel free to look up "Jonestown Massacre" for more details.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:09 a.m.

Racist? Unless cheap politicians are now a protected class/group for 'racist' comments. Lol.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 6:19 a.m.

not sure if this was intended to sound racist or not...


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:02 a.m.

I'm going to trademark that.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

If you want to see how to prevent robberies of things behind the counter, check out the setup that the party store on Washtenaw and Ellsworth has. More secure behind there than a bank.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.

I think she meant Ellesworth between Platt and Stine School on the North side


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Washtenaw and Ellsworth?

G. Orwell

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 6:07 p.m.

It's okay to rely on law enforcement but people also need to take matters In their own hands. In most cases, police arrive after the crime has already been committed. If it involves murder, police are no help. Train and arm yourselves. Self defense is your responsibility. People need to get beyond their indoctrinated belief that owning guns are somehow bad and uncool.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

According to, since the beginning of the year, Ann Arbor has had 518 crimes versus Ypsilanti's 138. Interesting. Looks like I'm living in the wrong city.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.

But you can always move to Ypsi if it makes you feel any 'safer'.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

The population of Ypsilanti is 21,517 according to google and according to google's same population tracker Ann Arbor's is 113,934. Ann Arbor's population is about 5.3 times greater than Ypsi's. So theoretically if ypsi's population grew to the size of Ann Arbor's and it's crime rate stayed consistent you could get a nice comparison. 21517 x 5.29 = 113824 138 x 5.29 = 730 So if you make Ypsilanti the size of Ann Arbor population wise, they have about 212 more crimes than Ann Arbor (give or take some).


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Greater population might also have something to do with it, but yeah, that is pretty funny.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

If the city were to hire more police officers, and give them the title of "Pedestrian Crosswalk Safety Enforcers," I'll bet no one in this town would have a problem with more officers in uniform.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

A2 police do need help. A lot. A couple of years ago I worked at a location on Main Street, only a few blocks from the station. We had real trouble with a man who turned out to be a recently released felon, jailed on assault and weapons charges. A local officer got his description and said he knew exactly who it was. He told me next time it was important to call dispatch immediately and say "INSERT NAME HERE is in the place right now! Officer so-and-so said you need to tell patrol immediately and tell them exactly who it is." The next time the person walked in I did just this, officers name, trouble makers name, both names again. Guess what? 45 minutes later ( about 30 minutes after he left) patrol strolled slowly in. They asked what was up. I told them and they said that dispatch had only called 10 minutes ago, and never gave the guys name. And they REALLY would have liked to have caught him. I hate to say it but I lost all faith that day. This guy was pissed, had a long history on OTIS (I looked him up, this is when I got really afraid of the dude) of assaults and weapons and time in prison. Multiple sentences going back 20 years. And I gave his name, and repeated the officers warning. This guy recognized me by then at other places around town. This scared me. Officers were unable to even communicate with each other about this. And they all knew the name and what the person had done in the past. Sorry, but they need more help. I'll rely on myself from now on. Oh, and this person had just been released ks before on parole after discharging a gun into a building and assaulting officers. This dude was dangerous. I can't tell you how I feel for that family. It must get harder and harder to respect the AAPD for them when they've been let down so often, but they STILL seem to want to work within the system. I admire them a great deal for that.two wee

Soft Paw

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

They need a couple big Dobermans.

Cathy Shukait

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

I am sorry this has happened to this family.............however maybe it is time they hired private security guards. That is what the business owners need to do instead of expecting tax payers to pay more taxes to give them private service or security!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

Your taxes have not gone down in the last 10 years, but the police budget has.

Linda Peck

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

p.s. If the number of police on duty had no effect on the crime rate, why do we need them at all? With that way of thinking, all we really would need would be clerks to make a police report on a traffic accident. That is diatribe. I will write in myself against the Mayor this election. I will absolutely not vote for this Mayor again. Can you hear me Mr Hieftje?


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 6:36 a.m.

Linda, I'd vote for you or for almost anybody but the current Mayor! We truly need to regain control of City Council with people who have a better understanding of what makes a great is NOT overly expensive art!!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

The argument that increased police presence in the community does not equal a safer city with a lower crime rate is complete and utter nonsense. Hieftje & Co can trot out all their questionable statistics all they like, but the fact remains that crimes like this are deterred by the knowledge that the perps will not get away with it easily. On the northern border of Detroit, there is a city called Ferndale. For many years, Ferndale has been a very safe and pleasant place to live, which is remarkable when you consider it borders one of the least safe and pleasant cities in the world. How is this possible? I guarantee it isn't because criminals are afraid of public art or park rangers.

Linda Peck

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

This is awful, and I am so sorry for this family's experience in Ann Arbor! This is really shocking! I am thankful to for reporting this. It is also shocking that no one on the council made any public comment to Ms. Esther Choi after hearing her pleas. What does the public have to do to get the attention of the Mayor and the Council?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Off the top of my head, I'd say the first step would be to join the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition. That seems to work for passing confusing pedestrian laws and making the roads less efficient.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

The solution here is simple: restore the police force to the staffing levels they had before Mayor Wishforitharder and his council of cronies began gutting the public safety budget. The more police officers there are on the street at any one time, the fewer crimes of this nature will be committed. Like everything else in world, the decision to commit armed robbery is based on risk and reward. If the risk is too great for the reward, there is a good chance the crime will not occur. The reason the war on drugs failed is that for the people trafficking and selling narcotics, the reward was worth almost any risk. Mandate swift executions for convicted drug traffickers, and there will be a remarkable drop in the cocaine supply in this country. With more police on the street in Ann Arbor, there will be fewer crimes of this nature, because the risk of getting caught will not be worth the few hundred bucks. Anyone whose eyes aren't painted on can see that this city's police presence is much lower than it used to be, which acts as tacit encouragement for people to commit crimes. Increase the police presence on the streets, and criminals will go elsewhere to commit crimes.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:50 a.m.

Alternatively, the city could stop wasting money on public art, flashing lights at crosswalks, and got knows what other wasteful nonsense. Oh, and let's not forget about the $100 million dollars they're currently sitting on. However, all of that is beside the point. At the end of the day, if you want to live in a civilized society, with things like roads and running water and public safety, it costs money, in the form of taxes. This is how every civilization has operated since Rome ruled the earth. Unfortunately, we live in a time when an actor with Alzheimers convinced the country that it could function if no one payed any taxes, and the population has willfully shut their brains off on the subject since then, because there hasn't been a politician since then who has had the stones to suggest that everyone might have to pay a little more to make this country better.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Why don't you propose higher taxes at the next council meeting. I'm sure they would support that. You can also write them a check an donate it to the general fund anytime you have the extra funds available. police cost money; the retirement benefits cost even more...........

Roy Munson

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

The owner of a party store in another high crime area on Packard wears a piece right on his belt. Maybe they should consider doing that. These (allegedly bad people) who hold up these stores would most likely pick another one.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

I'd like to add that the actual police officers are not at fault for late responses. They are also victims of the department downsizing. I've had contact with AA officers several times this year due to an issue with a sometimes violent neighbor. I was always given a realistic response time frame considering the cuts to the department and when officers arrived, I truly felt they cared and did all they could to help me. Upon their departure, they always encouraged me to call if anything else occurred and told me they would respond as quickly as they could. We have some good officers on the AA force.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

I am so sorry that the Choi family has had to endure so much crime. What a shame that the mayor and council don't acknowledge the need for the police to have the support to deal with the problem. I have found the Interim Police Chief, John Seto, to be a very responsive and caring individual. I have confidence that now that he has spoken with Ms. Choi, help is on the way.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

mmmmmmmmm I wonder if their names were Smith or Clark instead of Choi? Just wondering.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Everyone in town is at greater risk from the reduced police presence. I doubt very much that an organization as professional as AAPD chooses to discriminate against a crime victim based solely on their race.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

A sad commentary of our Mayor and council that a store owner and citizen has to appear before council to try to get help with an ongoing problem. I urge folks to check on to get a more accurate picture of the amount and types of crime that are happening in our city. It is always WAY more than what is reported from our various local outlets. Right now from 5/16-5/22 it shows 34 reported crimes between this time period. You get a breakdown of the types of crimes and a map as to where they are occuring.

Honest Abe

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

You would think when you have $100,000.00 plus per year detectives, dozens of city employee's being paid 10's of thousands of $$ past their salaries, A $150,000.00 sculpture in the justice building approved by city council and with Mayor John saying the crime is "trending downward", that life is perfect in A2. I wonder if Mayor John, has ever been robbed by a thug with a gun or knife? I wonder what is the status of the rapist/attacker who was striking last year? Anyone remember the rapist and serial killer from the early 90's?? The cops had no clue how to catch that guy! It was a vigilant cab driver who led police to arrest Ervin Mitchell. Ervin Mitchell, do you folks remember him? I called the AA police once on some kids who were blasting their music too loud one night. They were there in 3 minutes. 3 days later, I saw 2 guys breaking into a house down the street, the police took over 45 minutes to respond!!! It is time for the citizens to quit whining or keep all this in mind when they vote!! This city needs solid leadership, not a bunch of people wearing rose colored glasses that cannot spend our tax dollars the correct way, and are oblivious to things that take place in precious Ann Arbor.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

"Council members made no public remarks in response to Choi, who spoke during the general public comment period. Later speaking against a proposal to add more police officers in the city's budget, Mayor John Hieftje noted crime in Ann Arbor is trending downward. Following the council meeting the mayor and council members gathered around the 800 thousand dollar piece of twisted scrap metal in front of city hall for a group meditation on the plunging crime rate.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Our mayor seems to believe that the crime rate will continue to drop if everyone just wishes for it harder. Welcome to HieftjeTown. Please enjoy the Kool-Aid.

say it plain

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

I'm somewhat puzzled by the suggestions that the Chois need to bunker-ize their store. Does this violent crime wave across the street from the UM hospital, close to downtown, 'glamorize' Ann Arbor for some people who aren't *at all* critiquing the City and the lack of response from the AAPD experienced by this family? You know, because it makes it all so "big city tough neighborhood" for folks?! This stuff does "happen everywhere", but over and over and over to the same target is not 'normal' except in places that have generally much higher crime rates than Ann Arbor alleges itself to have! Why do some commenters treat this story as giving us a choice between "ignore it, no biggie, get some weapons forgoshsake you run a *store*" or "we should have police posted at every corner store open past 6 pm" ? Especially when no commenter is actually *saying* we need to have a hugely increased PD and a cop on every block?! We can't we treat it as suggesting that "hmm, maybe we're not running an effective PD right now, or for the last 10 years wherein this family has been experiencing increasingly violent crimes and pathetic police response times and no suspects caught ever"? We can get maybe the City to provide us with evidence that all is fine? We can hear what they have to say about the Choi's impressions? And, please, enough with the suggestions that there is *no correlation between the number of police and the crime rate". There are more recent studies that try to address the *obvious* problems with getting a convincing causal connection there from analyses (and some of them suggest it *does* reduce crime, at very least 'property crimes' if not violent ones in terms of overall rates).


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:23 a.m.

there have been no suggestions that the Choi family 'bunker-ize" (sic) their store, so I can see why you are puzzled. The rest of your ramble doesn't make much sense and this "last 10 years" thiing is kinda crazy, too. Since, if you've lived in this town for longer than that, you'd know about places around town that were inviting targets for robberies and got hit more often than you'd think "normal". and I don't know where you are coming from with this "big city, tough neighborhood" rant either. I know the area and i'm fine with it. Every city has it's weak spots; this is one of ours. Now go blame city council, water fountains & parking structures for that!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

The headquarters of University Bank used to be located on Maiden Lane just around the corner from this store in a building we sold and has since been torn down and turned into a field to make way for the Broadway Village project in Lower Town that failed to get built. Before we bought the building I learned that the credit union that used to be there had been robbed five or six years in a row. So I consulted with the FBI and local police on how to improve security in that location to discourage future robbers. These law enforcement officials had many, many helpful suggestions all of which I implemented. As a result, we only had one robbery over the next nine years. That particular area is more dangerous than it seems because there are few "eyes on the street" (windows of buildings occupied 24/7) to discourage criminals. If the Lowertown property is built someday, it will definitely decrease the incidence of crime in general in that area, though the experience of the store may be difference for its own particular reasons. I would suggest the family do what I did and have a safety review of the store with the local police as soon as it can be arranged.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:15 a.m.

a good and reasonable suggestion. And yes, all of the reasons you stated make it an easy target for robberies.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

Stephen, I agree. While no victim should be blamed for a violent crime like this, there are steps the owners might take to lessen their attractiveness as a target. I am familiar with the location, and better lighting, fresh paint, etc might go a long way to alert criminals that this location is run by individuals who are paying attention.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Oops! It should read "the experience of the store may be different."


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

The argument that "even if we had a cop in every corner/party store/house/whatever" is kind of disingenuous. I haven't heard a single person propose anything like that, so you should really consider giving up that strawman. Given some of your assertions we could just become Mayberry and have a single Barney Fife cop with his one bullet and still have a similar crime rate. Doe3s anyone actually believe that?

rusty shackelford

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Feel bad for them but not sure what she wants AAPD to do. These crimes generally aren't solved unless the perps go on a "spree." One off robberies like this are pretty difficult to trace. Prints would do nothing if either of the following is true: a)the perp has no record or b) has previously been to the store in a non-criminal capacity.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

I think patrol drive-bys would be warranted in this area. The location of this store really makes it an ideal place to rob. It's pretty secluded - set away from Plymouth Road and facing a large vacant lot. Very easy for a criminal to get in and out. I feel for the owners. I, too, run by there early in the morning and, without fail, they are already there getting ready for the day. It would have been nice if the mayor could have acknowledged the daughter at the council meeting. His lack of response clearly represents a lack of any concern for the citizens of the city.

Elijah Shalis

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

I had an accident just outside Ann Arbor at the Meijer when a lady rear ended me and the Pittsfield Police showed up in 5 mins. My car broke down two months ago and the Pittsfield Police showed up in 5 mins. What is wrong with the AA Police? There are more than enough officers.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

meant to say "...for about an hour during shift changes."


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Elijah, the AA police have on average 5-6 cars on patrol per shift. This goes down to about 1 or 2 for about an during shift changes. For a city the size of Ann Arbor, this is inadequate any way you look at it.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:51 p.m.

No, there aren't. I was rear-ended several years ago, before the police budget was completely gutted, and there was an officer on the scene in less than 10 minutes. I was rear-ended again last year, and waited over an hour.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

In ten years, I have watched asafe,picturesque midwestern city go down the tubes. Any city government that finances an underground parking garage (need I say that Ann Arbor is NOT New York, or Boston and has plenty of ROOM for parking} at the expense of its citizens by cutting POLICE and Fire should be actively removed . I watched the sky being blocked by Brooklyn-nesque high rises, businesses shuttered by unnecessary construction. Some astute investors looked upon Ann Arbor, found a "sucker" and have trampled the populace. We are talking MILLIONS here - including the recent vote for 45 Million for "technology" at the schools! I recall that the Ann Arbor schools had millions of dollars of sound equipment put into the schools about 5 years ago - and they are now going to rip it out! All of these outside investors are making money on an "uneducated" populace!? Do any of you citizens own stock in the companies that are doing all this mess? The out -of-country(?) "Bus" consultant? The teardowns on Fifth? The new homeless shelter.a.k.a.- the underground parking garage? No citizen input on anything - just undertable payoffs - please wake up -


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

In the last ten years we have watched our economy go downthe tubes also. More jobs equals less crime; higher taxes and more regulations equals less jobs. think about that when you vote.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

A hardworking family targeted by thugs. A very sad story.

Ron Granger

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:13 p.m.

"Get a gun" doesn't solve this. Though I am a big fan of TV classics such as "The Rifleman", and "Gunsmoke". Most of us, I'm gonna guess, have never pointed a gun at anyone before. We are not Marshal Matt Dillon. Any experienced robber is going to hide his weapon until he is certain he has the advantages necessary to commit the crime. He's going to make sure there isn't a cop in the store buying a snack. Most important, he is not going to give you time to get your weapon. As I recall, the last robbery involved a sawed off shotgun. The mere possession of that extremely deadly weapon is, I believe, a 10 year felony. Only a very hardened and desperate criminal would carry it. Once you have a gun pointed at your face, only a fool would attempt to resist. What might greatly help is two employees in the store, located in different areas. Both armed. That makes a robbery a much more difficult. We've all seen the bullet proof shields some stores use. Sometimes they keep it open during the day, and close it at night. Or have the option to quickly close it. After so many robberies, why have they not installed such a system? How many more robberies will it take?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

SMC, I'm not using a straw man argument. The point I'm trying to make is that cops rarely prevent crime. Cops are generally called to a situation after a crime has already happened. Certainly the presence of cops does deter some criminal activity but nothing truly prevents it. Cops don't prevent someone from breaking into your house, they get called to the scene as it's happening or after it has already happened. More cops probably = a greater response time but I'm not sure it would prevent things, like the robbery of this party store, from happening. Unless a cop was stationed out front permanently this would, and will, continue to happen. The only thing that can actually prevent things like this from happening is if you take action yourself and are prepared to defend yourself. Whether that's with bullet proof glass or with a gun. It doesn't need to be a violent answer (a gun) but obviously some steps do need to be taken by the store owner. Alex, they were in and out in 30 seconds because the store owner had 0 protection. He had no glass, window or barrier between him and the door. He had no weapon. He had taken no steps to insure his own personal safety in an obviously dangerous occupation. If he was naive before he ever got robbed that's fine but after it happens multiple times you'd think he would have learned. What do they think added police would have done in this situation? Probably nothing more than they already have done. I would have given them the money as well if I was in that exact situation. Problem is, if I owned a party store, operated it at night and had already been robbed once; you better be darn sure that the next week there would have been a plexiglass semi-bullet proof window put up. And let me be clear - more police is not a bad thing. I do not think that. But I don't think added police would stop any of this activity from happening and I don't think the city is responsibly for my personal protection.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 11:25 a.m.

exactly, he already had a gun pointed at his face... personally I would have just given them the cash even if i had a gun. I'd rather lose some cash than be shot.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

No, I'm saying crime would be significantly reduced if Detroit had an adequately sized, properly trained, professional police force, and maybe a city council who weren't as corrupt as they are inept. Eliminating crime is a pipe dream, and no one has even come close to suggesting that it is possible. Nice try on the straw man though.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

SMC, so you're saying all the crime in Detroit would go away if they had an adequately sized police force? I don't think so.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Unfortunately, the old west gunslinger myth portrayed on television existed in a world where the was insufficient law enforcement present, where one marshal and a deputy had to control an entire town. Since that wasn't enough to keep the peace, people started arming themselves. Sound familiar?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

A gun certainly wouldn't hurt. The last time they were robbed, video linked to in the article, the robbers came in with guns out. And yes, one of them was an illegal sawed off shotgun. I agree that a security shield would be a good first step; heck, even one that they could just put up at night would be sufficient as it seems this is the worst time for incidents.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

There certainly seems to be a disconnect between reality and some of the comments made by those that hold the power to make changes. Reminds me of the comment made to me after being in my accident on Plymouth Rd at the pedestrian crosswalk before the flashing lights were installed. Informed of my accident, the former council member responed, "that there would be bumps along the way" as people got used to the new law. Sort of an ivory tower response. Hopefully, Ms. Choi and her family recieves a more appropriate response from the council, the mayor, and the police department. No one should have to deal with guns pointed at them over and over again in order to make a living.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

it's really sad that people need a "big boy button" to cross the road... I get at least one idiot a day that just steps in front of my car looking at their phone/ipod or a cyclist that doesn't stop or even make an effort to look before riding into the road. It's also sad that the law in Ann Arbor pretty much states that if it even LOOKS like someone is going to walk into the road you have to stop... not sure who these lawmakers are but i certainly can't predict the future.

Silly Sally

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

When I cross a street, I either wait for a gap in traffic or for cars to slow down and stop for me. I also, if at an intersection, wait until I have a green light. What I do not do is step out in front of moving cars and expect them to stop for me, and if they do not, ignore them and still step out infront of them, expecting the driver to see me and to stop. Wow, someone who just steps out into traffic and expects traffic to stop for her. I'm so sorry that you were hurt and I hope that you have recovered, but wow..."disconnect between reality ..."

Ron Granger

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

What changes would solve this? Taxpayers fund a cop in every store?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Even if the city deputized 1/2 the city. The Surpreme court said the police are not there for your safety. Therefore learn how do defend yourself.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

And if we drilled every square inch ... oops, sorry wrong argument.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

And spend thousands defending yourself in court!

mike umbolt

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

"During these 30 years our family has been robbed over and over again." Very sorry to hear this but it is nothing new, it has been going on no matter how many police there were. It is impossible to have an officer on every corner and studies show there is no correlation between the number of police and the rate of crime.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Step 1 - Buy a shotgun -End of steps I'm betting the first time someone comes in there to rob the store and they pull that thing out that will be the last time someone attempts to rob the store. Police can only do so much. They can't be there at every given moment to protect you. Therefore, you need to start protecting yourself.

Ann English

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Did anyone else watch the video (among many choices) provided by, showing one man behind a counter in Spartanburg (possibly South Carolina), who used martial arts to knock an armed robber at his store unconscious? They had to get close together in order for the employee to hand over money with his right hand, and he swiftly punched the robber with his left hand, knocking him out. It was after the would-be robber was unconscious that the other man noticed that the gun was a pellet gun. The would-be robber was arrested and the employee wasn't charged with any crime.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

A shotgun and a plexiglass shield would be a good place to start. The glass gives the clerk enough time to react to people storming in with guns.

David Paris

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

In the video above, the perps walked in the door in broad daylight with two hands on the gun- who in their right mind would argue with that? I'd seek other alternatives.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Does the Choi family have a gun to protect themselves? I hope the Ann Arbor police and the DA would stand behind them if they had to use it!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

Most cops would likely stand behind a citizen using justified deadly force to defend themselves. Our prosecutor, most definitely not. Mr. Mackey has even recused himself from serving on the county gun board (it is legally required for the DA or a selected representative to be on the board), which is responsible for reviewing concealed pistol license applications, because he is staunchly anti-gun.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

My guess is that the Choi family would spend thousands of dollars defending themselves and the person defending the store would end up serving time anyway.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

Taxpayers should definitely fund cops to be stationed at all vulnerable businesses 24-7. There is no (organized) republican tax-increase opposition. Let's do this. We'll schedule a referendum during artfair and off we go!!!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Yes we should follow Detroit's model. Too many crimes at gas stations, not enough police? Well enact an ordinance forcing all stations to provide armed guards, that's the ticket! NOT


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

"republican tax-increase opposition". Huh? What does that have to do with it? They have a right to protect themselves, if they choose to do it, and if the cops can't.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

"eto said he couldn't say with certainty whether there's a crime problem in the area where the store is located, just a short distance from downtown over the Broadway bridges." look over your head MR! your glass are on top!

Ron Granger

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

Why is this store such a target? Is it the amount of cash on hand? Is it seen as an easy hit? Multiple getaway routes? Lack of resistance?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:08 a.m.

Ann, the store is located on 1027 Broadway, it is pretty much a stand alone building with a door on the side and not a lot of windows. It is near the Northside Grill. It is located by the corner of Moore & Broadway, right by where Traver Rd. begins. It's not a great location and the fact that the store hasn't really got a lot of windows or a door that opens into the street, plus not a lot of foot traffic in the area, makes it a prime target for robberies. If there were more businesses in that area instead of that big fenced off field where the Kroger used to be, it might not be such an inviting target. But it is what it is.

Ann English

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

From the replies above, I guess I don't know where this store is, possibly between Plymouth and Broadway. I wonder how well or poorly it is lit? If it is in a strip mall, and the other stores around it all close earlier, do all the lights in the parking lot go off before this one store closes for the day?

Ron Granger

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

"But I wouldn't go blaming the victims here, because they thought Ann Arbor was the kind of city that might actually try to *stop* crime against its citizens, or perhaps they'd not have set up shop where they did. Gotta also understand, I think, that until *10 years ago* when Hieftje took over, they didn't have quite this level of problems with their location...." Please name one town of comparable size where stores don't get robbed. As for this utopia 10 years ago, tell that to my buddy who was robbed and abducted at gunpoint in the Broadway Kroger parking lot 20 years ago.

say it plain

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.

It surely is an easy target given the facts of its placement. But I wouldn't go blaming the victims here, because they thought Ann Arbor was the kind of city that might actually try to *stop* crime against its citizens, or perhaps they'd not have set up shop where they did. Gotta also understand, I think, that until *10 years ago* when Hieftje took over, they didn't have quite this level of problems with their location.... But crime is trending down according to the city! Hmm, I guess that should make them feel better as they experience the fall-out from the city's having so depleted AAPD's effectiveness that it needs to abandon attempts to reduce what crime still exists and to, you know, catch any perpetrators lol


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

The location is set away from the main road and facing the other way toward a street that is sparsely populated (actually across the street is a vacant lot). Unfortunately, it would be extremely easy to rob the store and get away. The other businesses in this strip mall pretty much close around 5 or 6, so this store is an easy target.

Ron Granger

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Easy to say, hard to do. Most robbers use the element of surprise. They case the joint and only reveal the gun if it seems right. In TV talk, that is known as "getting the drop". Once you have a gun in your face, only a fool would attempt to resist. So nice thought, but coming home to your family is probably more important.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

They probably don't resist. They should have a gun on the premises and use it!

Ron Granger

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

We cannot afford to put a cop in every party store. Adding a few more cops will not make any difference in this situation, as it has not in the previous decades. That's sad and unfortunate that the family has had to go through that. I know someone who was robbed and abducted at the Broadway Kroger 20 years ago. As the documented history shows, these crimes are not "new". They were just under-reported in the Ann Arbor News and other media. Who knew this family's store has been violently robbed so many times? What do the police have to say about this? And "we need more staff" isn't a response, because this is not a new problem.

say it plain

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

But you notice that it's been the "last 10 years" that has seen a problem for this little store. Right? That's the same time frame as Hieftje's term! Now, I don't know the exact timing of the AAPD's move away from community-oriented policing as they downsized, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear it! Places like party stores in good get-away locations are always going to be a target. But when a police force tries to be present as a deterrent and a detection-aid force as they would be doing if they treated robberies as more than just 'report-taking' but as a signal that there is a 'community' out there and we need to protect and serve it...*then* you get some solved cases and reduced crime! You set up a false equivalence and a great smoke screen for your 'leaders' to fail to address their duties when you talk about "cops in every party store", I think. I lived long ago in a place where small businesses were targets, but somehow crimes sometimes got actually 'solved' at least...all those robberies and *never* a suspect arrested?! I'm guessing maybe 25 minute response times may also have been relevant to such a situation?!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

"Council members made no public remarks in response to Choi" Shocking. I guess as long as it isn't happening downtown they just don't care.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

Once again Hieftje was condescending from his throne toward a citizen with a valid concern. Shame on you Mayor Hieftje. Shame on you. And FYI crime is not anymore down in AA than our streets are pristine. But keep plugging because you have, after all, no competition at the polls come fall.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Remington Model 870 pump-action is the way to go. The sound that the action makes when ejecting a spent shell and loading a new one is enough to make most intruders soil themselves.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

I recommend a Ruger 9mm. Or a good shot gun.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

I don't think anyone OTHER than hizzhonor will be surprised when people start to take matters into their own hands and defend themselves. The mayor's continued comments that "crime is trending downward" are clearly out of touch with reality. At this point I would vote for anyone but him in November, legitimate or not.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

If crime is really declining like the mayor says it must be being reported more because of all the stories in makes it look like more. Frankly I don't think the mayor is telling the truth or he is blind to what is going on in our city.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

The dude needs a gun. Plain and simple.

say it plain

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Right. Because he's *not* getting any attempt at police presence in the area, despite the mini crime spree that appears to have existed for this strip of town for the last 10 years. Hmm, 10 years, 10 years.... that appears to be the length of time our fair city's Mayor has been in office, what a coincidence!

Jon Saalberg

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

My standard line - this is the city administration that thought a $50M parking deck, in the absence of any need, was a good idea.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

really? the ramp going down to the parking area is gonna be sweet for all the skateboarders! That's a good idea.....


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor..we live in the Real world after all?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

what did I say before ? statistics can be bent to mean any city we have those rough corners even in so called safe Ann Arbor.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

Adding police officers will not stop the crimes committed against this family or any others. What are the odds that a police officer will actually be at their store the moment it is robbed? The police can only investigate and try to capture the perpetrators. Some people would argue more police would act as a deterrent, these criminals don't even consider that. The police can only do so much and only have so may resources the citizens can afford. If crime is so bad then cut back on parking tickets and spped traps and focus on crime prevention. It's obvious the police understand that from a financial standpoint it makes more sense to hand out tickets because as I said they cannot be there as personal bodyguards for every citizen. We have expectations that the government will protect us from every harm in every way possible and that's unrealistic and unsustainable. Automobiles cost so much due to all of the safety equipment figure out the cost to society for the 13 million cars produced annually and then add in other things you can unlimited police protection. My advice would be to become a responsible and well trained gun owner.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:51 a.m.

We had too many police before, in the nineties here in Ann Arbor. The Main & Madison gas station used to get robbed regularly. More police didn't prevent that from happening. The clark station there got robbed so much it was nicknamed the 'stop n rob'. So all these arguments about "more police = safer streets" don't hold water IMO. Location is everything. Some locations are less safe than others for apparent reasons. Heck, an armed robber could leave the store and jump into a canoe down by argo and paddle away. So, more doesn't make better. Lame argument. That said, the AAPD should come up with a plan which could minimize the Choi family's exposure to armed robbery and possibly apprehend these opportunists and put them away. I feel for the family, but this chatter about low levels of police in this town are ill-formed and ignorant. At what level of police presence would you feel safe? Give me a number! Are you willing to pay higher taxes to fund that presence or complain about 'big government' taking your tax dollars?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

@nowayjose - common sense would tell you taht the police cannot be everywhere at once and that criminals are opportunists. I don't need a survey for that..........


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

I'm curious. Did you do a interview with criminals that didn't commit crimes because police were present. Pretty subjective argument with no data to back it up.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

If police weren't spread so thin, they wouldn't have to race from one side of the city to another. There might be one right around the corner with better odds of catching the perp.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

we need to find why this area of the party store is getting hit so many is the first thing you see when you drive in Ann Arbor downtown. party store.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

Well I think its time to have every member of the family go get a CCW permit and the next time they come in to rob them, give them somthing they wernt expecting. You would be doing the community a great service in taking these idiots off the streets.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

They do not need a CPL in their own store! It is there property!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

I run by this place on a weekly basis. It's a travesty that this sort of crime can happen in the heart of Ann Arbor. In the meantime, they never caught the "Ann Arbor Rapist" from last summer, and the University of Michigan Regents still prevent law-abiding citizens from arming themselves. Guess we should just keep praying that the City Council and police will be there for us when we need them most?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:40 a.m.

No, Ann, the city didn't start in that area. The lower town business/landowners were in competition with the upper town (downtown) business/landowners. The competition was fierce for awhile, but lower town lost out.

Ann English

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

GoNavy, No map is provided to locate this store, but I'm thinking it's between Swift and Moore Streets. You refer to "the heart" of Ann Arbor. Nearby are streets given names to attract settlers who were impressed with New York: Broadway, Maiden Lane, Wall Street, and Canal Street. The city did start right in this area.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

its travesty not because it happens in Ann Arbor, because we are not better then any other place.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

Party stores attract a low-class clientele and stay open late to feed their need for alcohol. This makes them target #1 when a member of this clientele tries to decide who he wants to rob.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Actually I will stop at a party store for a quick run and I am neither a drunk nor 'low class.'. Not every party store is the same.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

oh! got forbid the diag!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

A lot of drunks live in that part of town, i noticed its not to safe.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:01 p.m.

I'm hesitant to even say "wait until something like this strikes closer to home," because this place is less than a mile from downtown. However, imagine the outrage if Diag Party Store was robbed in this fashion. Same type of clientele at that establishment, especially in the evening during the summer.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

Just another story of no good deed goes unpunished! Here you have active citizens, paying taxes, contributing to our community and they are bullied by the thugs who continue to run the town after hours. I"d tell this family to get the Smith and Wesson as recommended by the above comment but surely they would shoot the robber in an attempt to send a message and promtly end up in jail, needing to hire high price attorneys to defend their actions and most likely end with jail time unlike the crimminals who time and time again walk. I"m pretty sure should Choi shoot, the police response time would be swift and the investigation prompt and the headlines would be in bold letters the next day reading something like "Ann Arbor Police arrest store owner in shooting". What a sad state of affairs! My uncle retired from the Ann Arbor Police as a high ranking officer and he would be mortified if he were alive today.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

get the Smith and Wesson? lol the wild north side of Broadway....looks like it too..


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

That is why one should fully understand the laws regarding use of firearms and get additional training whenever possible. Unless the shoot were clearly bad, Michigan's Self Defense Act should preempt the scenario you proposed. Btw some Michigan Democrats are trying to repeal this basic protection for law abiding citizens. If you believe in the natural and innate right to self defense, you should look into this and contact them. And before the Liberals jump down my throat, I am a registered Democrat.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

Ann Arbor has always been in denial that there is a crime problem. The refrain I always hear is "it's just like any other big city." First, that's a cop out. Second, Ann Arbor doesn't claim to be just another big city. It claims to be a city of culture and safety. Ann Arbor may not have a lot of homicides, but armed robberies, brawls, and home invasions are traumatizing violent crimes. Not to mention that Ann Arbor seems to be a magnet for serial rapists. I don't think it's fair to blame the police - they are constrained by the city leaders. They are the ones that need to wake up and address the crime issue in the city.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

Right off the top of my head, I can think of John Norman Collins, Coral Watts, Erwin Mitchell, and the guy last summer. Is that over the top? Also, Ted Bundy was hanging out here, but no proof he ever murdered. But nontheless...


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

Just how many serial rapists does it take to make a city a "magnet". Over the top a little.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

that i said...we are not special ...and im hated for it....

Barbara Clarke

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:45 a.m.

I would hope that Ann Arbor citizens would rally behind this family's concerns. It would appear that Mr. Seto will meet with Choi family . . . let's "stay tuned" and exert public outrage if this matter isn't resolved.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

Awful that this place has been robbed so many times. I wonder whether the location is a factor. While there are other businesses along that stretch, the party store is the only one open at night. Road traffic passes by at all hours, but not much foot traffic at night. For example, if the nearby restaurant was open at night and perhaps another business or two, it might impact how a criminal views that area.

Joe Zurawski

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Perhaps there is a good reason the nearby restaurant is NOT open at night - like THIS reason maybe?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

I'd say location is definitely a factor. The point is that if a neighborhood (like this one) has a crime problem, the city needs to step up efforts to decrease it. Apparently, based on what Ms. Choi said, this has not happened. My experience with the AA Police Department when I owned a retail store had a crime committed, was less than inspiring. They fill out a report and generally take no action unless you practically hand them all the evidence they need to identify the criminal (license plate number, picture, surveillance video tape).


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

I was so sad to hear of this robbery, it is absolutely appalling that some kids would rob an old man at gun point. After this robbery I have made an effort to buy beer at this store (even though it is a bit overpriced). He is a very sweet old man who is usually just watching some soap opera-esque shows on his computer.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:01 a.m.

the last comment was a response to "anti-thug"


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:01 a.m.

i noticed some of your previous comments with the same error using "their" instead of "there"... get it straight. Second of all, this is NOT a dangerous part of Ann Arbor, I live right around the corner and this is the only crime i've ever heard about... you also state that there are "a lot of drunks in that area" there's a major difference between drunks and criminals that hold a gun to someone's head.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:27 p.m.

watch out its like the wild wild north up their !

Bob Heinold

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

Police statistics and statements like "crime trending downward" should be viewed with skepticism. In a pre-Giuliani NYC/NYPD people despair of even reporting minor crimes, police subject any reports to "interpretation," and either because of lack of resources or class-stratified enforcement ("management") do not follow up thoroughly. So hard working small business people are more vulnerable, middle class neighborhoods not patrolled, city officials caring only about importing branches of big business and building apartments for rich college kids and yuppies. -Bob H.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

you got to look at the entire pie chart and not just crime per cap. all city have high and low crime area's, from that we can make a change.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:09 a.m.

OZ..excuse me Ann Arbor.. has become a shiny band aid over an infected wound with a city government that lives behind the big talking head, refusing to face its reality and solve the real problems that we face..such a shame...


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:28 a.m.

You guys seem to forget about the Clark station on Main & Madison. Even with 33% more police on staff than we have now, it got robbed on a regular basis. So much so that a lot of locals called it the 'stop-n-rob'. Kinda blows a hole bigger'n a hollow-point in your argument that more is better.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

None of them actually live in the neighborhoods that are having trouble. They are insulated.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

in the last few days, Ann Ann seen some violent in the news.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

Wake up Ann Arbor - the mayor and his clan DOES NOT CARE about the citizens. They like to puff themselves up and pat each others backs on what a fine cultured, educated, city this is. They feed off the 'Ann Arbor Voted (fill in the posh blank here) news stories, and think to themselves, 'oh what a great job we're doing' Nice. PS. Watched a drug deal go down in my back alley yesterday with 3 people that I see on state street every day. Called the police. Guess what? Not enough police to respond. Thanks, mayor. Wish I could get some *Art* money for the sculpture I carry on my hip everyday now because of your inane city management.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

But we do have more bike paths..........


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:07 a.m.

There is a party store on Packard near Platt who's owner open carries a Smith and Wesson M&P pistol. Don't recall ever reading about him being robbed....


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

@Bcar; At 8-12 ft they will hit the mark, which in this case is anywhere on a body. No I have not fired a sawed-off (which is illegal), but a 410, 20, 12, 8mm Mauser, 38 sp, 45, 22, 17 wildcat, 30-6, etc. I'm not saying it will be accurate, but getting "hit" with BB, or bird wouldn't be on my top ten list. You assume its bird shot and if its not? Like I said I do agree but . . . .


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

@kmgeb2000 You dont know very much about firearms do you? How many sawed off Shotguns have you ever fired and with what types of ammo? The BG most likely had bird shot in it and while one of the BBs would hit its "mark" it would not cause major damage. Sawed off shotguns are not accurate. especially when held/aimed from the hip... Id take the M&P any day over a shorty 2 shot 12ga...

Ann English

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

alex My point is that Ricebrnr's entrepreneur not only tried to be personally responsible for his own safety, he IS being responsible for it, not counting on police who may or may not show up on time during any robbery, if one is ever attempted. The crimes committed against another entrepreneur very near his own business really hit home with him.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

In that instance, I don't think the man was just killed while being robbed - he was actually chased outside of the store and shot down in the parking lot, as I recall.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

It also provides the reason for the one with the 12 gauge to pull the trigger, as opposed to terrify and robe. Not that I disagree at one level, but if the sawed-off is out first no sane person is pulling a toothpick or a SW. The odds of the sawed-off 12 gauge hitting the "mark" is far greater than that of the pistol, regardless of training. The situation sounds like one were inaction is the safest route for everyone.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.

EXACTLY what I was going to write - buy a gun and USE IT. Criminals will hear about it and move to another target.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

@alex - you really don't get the point?


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:41 a.m.

and your point is...?

Ann English

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:14 a.m.

That intersection is where a BP gas station owner was robbed of his new car and killed by an armed criminal, who then drove to Detroit in that stolen car, some years back. It's easy to think that here's an entrepreneur you mention who learned the right lesson from that past crime.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.

@Chris W: I have been told by members of the Ann Arbor police force that they only have five patrols cars on duty each shift, typically. For a city of 27 square miles and 114,000 people, that is certainly too few. Even taking out the U-M students and staff who are served by the U-M Police, it's still too few, in my opinion.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

@Ranzini & Eep: I'm honestly disappointed that neither of you were able to deduce that while the University of Michigan comprises exactly of the acreage I described (you can look it up yourself), the University itself is neither contiguous nor located entirely in the same city. However, thoughtful readers will understand that the majority of the area I described does in fact lie within the borders of Ann Arbor. I'll let you two do the rest of the thinking from there.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

So I guess the new saying is... "Ann Arbor, 27 square miles surrounded by reality."

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

@Eep is correct. According to wikipedia, Ann Arbor has exactly 27.7 square miles. See:


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

@GoNavy - I don't know what numbers you looked up, but the ENTIRE area of the City of Ann Arbor is only 27 square miles. Your numbers would indicate that UofM takes up 121% of the city, which is obviously not possible. From what I understand, UofM actually occupies about 9% of the city - about 2.5 square miles. You might be looking at numbers for all of the land that UoM owns, which would include land out in the townships, up north, and in other states.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

U of M has it's own police department so take them out of the equation.....


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Bottom line is they can't be in every location to stop crime even if they had 100 cars on the street at any given time.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

Stephen- I looked up the numbers; the entire U of M campus totals 20,965 acres, which is 32.75 square miles. That's a significant portion of the City of Ann Arbor, wouldn't you say? As much as I like police protection, I disdain a police state.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11 a.m.

It took Ann Arbor police an hour and ten minutes to respond to a recent traffic accident. They are either understaffed or under motivated.

Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Chrisw, I think it's more a question of understaffing than undermotivation. a good friend of mine is on the AAPD and he has expressed his frustration to me about how the mayor and his imcompetents think that one can do the job of five! please try not to judge them too harshly.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Chris, two vehicles involved in an accident pulled in front of my home a couple of weeks ago, to get off a busy roadway here in A2. They waited one hour and thirty-five minutes for an officer to respond. They are very understaffed. I feel very sorry for the Choi family, who are trying to run their business, while trying to stay out of harm's way. For the mayor to not comment at all speaks volumes.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

they are understaffed.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

that is pretty ridiculous (coming from someone who is usually anti-police) this city REALLY needs a few more cops on each shift, especially with the amount of horrible drivers in this area. I see people speeding, running through a red light, or going the wrong way on a one way street... it's preposterous! The city will spend 750k on some awful looking statue that is barely noticeable from Germany but is totally willing to cut the amount of officers... it's a strange world we live in


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:51 a.m.

As always, our mayor and city council believe what they want in absence of the facts. Someone might remove Ann Arbor from their top-ten list if our city government admitted that we had a crime problem.

Madeleine Borthwick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

I could not agree with you more. Welcome to the twilight zone!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.

patch it up..their...good as new Ann Arbor :)

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

"Later speaking against a proposal to add more police officers in the city's budget, Mayor John Hieftje noted crime in Ann Arbor is trending downward." The Mayor's facts are out of date. I received an email from Interim Police Chief John Seto on Monday in which he informed me that overall crime this year *is* definitely up over last year in Ann Arbor.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

@eagleman: to be more clear, Interim Chief Seto says that he has the stats and they show crime is up this year. I didn't ask for that and he didn't volunteer them to me. What he is working on assembling the stats for is the percent of crimes solved versus the peer group the city's management has selected as most appropriate. The department will be evaluated on that at the end of the year by city management.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:27 p.m.

Stephen, your case is hindered by your lack of statistics. The Interim Chief SAYS that crime is up, but what is that based upon if he does not yet have statistics to support such a claim? His gut? I think we need more than a feeling to determine. I think it wise we all wait until the statistics are released before making any judgment about the state of crime in Ann Arbor. Anything else is idle speculation.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Oops! For "din't" please read "don't"!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

@Craig Lounsbury & Ross: What I wrote is *precisely correct*. Please read what I wrote carefully. In at least some categories, the 2012 level of crime exceeds the levels from many years ago before the downtrend the Mayor points to started. There is no trend *anymore* towards lower crime and the Police Chief asserts that crime is up over last year though had no statistics on that he could share with me (he is working on pulling them together). As to the Mayor's "experiment" with public safety, it is clearly an experiment going badly wrong for some of the human test subjects! If you are going to run an experiment with people lives, din't you think you should be paying close attention to the statistics, so as to change course, if necessary?!!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

Exactly, Craig. Stephen, please stop highlighting and referring to a one year comparison of crime stats. Trends take longer than that to observe properly. And two data points NEVER describes a trend.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

I'm in no way defending the mayor but the "facts" can both be right. It depends on the length of the "trend" one is talking about. For instance, look at a 1 year daily chart of PCLN and I could honestly say PCLN has been trending upward for a year and you could honestly say its been trending downward for almost a month. Neither of our "facts" are incorrect its just a time frame interpretation.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

The mayor and his council do not have a clue.....but it is a mindset of a city that will never change.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

@Observer. The sad fact is that they actually do have clue, and simply don't care. 13 years he's been mayor/council member...he's employed for life.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

I tried to tell to be little more modest of Ann Arbor


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:55 a.m.

plain & simple VOTE THEM OUT!!!


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.

The mayor has no idea of what so ever is happening in Ann Arbor -- My heart aches for the Choi family and I surely hope that they get the protection they need to keep their business going.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, May 23, 2012 : 10:15 a.m.

"Council members made no public remarks in response to Choi, who spoke during the general public comment period. Later speaking against a proposal to add more police officers in the city's budget, Mayor John Hieftje noted crime in Ann Arbor is trending downward." This pretty much says it all.

Albert Howard

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

@AlanGoldsmith's comments: This is one of the reasons that I am running against Mayor John Hieftje on the November 6, 2012 ballot as an Independent.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 6:17 a.m.

maybe if we didn't spend 750k on some hardly noticeable statue/fountain we would have more money for officers! Ann Arbor needs to stop worrying about art (even "graffiti alley" gets more attention than that thing) and start worrying about keeping crime down.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Don't take this the wrong way I'm a Democrat...but this "blind eye" toward crime doesn't make it go downward. Our Party needs to grow some intestinal fortitude and just say..."listen folk's...we are understaffed, underfunded, and a gun and learn how to use it responsibly. IMO...if we did that, we would control every seat in the building for years to come...jus' sayin'