Column: Rainy, cold weather a blessing for cops having to police annual Greenwood Avenue party
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
Sorry to hear the weather and keg laws dampened the spirits of revelers on Ann Arbor's Greenwood Avenue this past weekend.
I’m betting my brothers and sisters in blue were not as bummed out. In fact, if they had a chance to stop for a piping hot cup o’ joe with their shift mates there were probably some chuckles about the lousy weather.
That annual party on Greenwood can be a handful for police. That is a narrow street, and the house are very close together and old. In years past,the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of youthful partiers have decided to light fires in the street. Usually it's couches, but one year the party-goers torched an evicted criminal's clothing and dresser. That one terrified me.
The fire, using the clothing and dresser belonging to a guy arrested and evicted out of one of the apartments, was about 10 feet from a parked car. It got so hot and flames shot so high that it blackened shoes hanging from the utility wires. My fear was that if that car or one of the houses on the street caught fire, it could take out the block. Cars and houses are stacked very tightly on that Greenwood.
Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com
It also sounds like the keg registration law did this year what it was intended to do. I am hoping that law also helped to prevent the theft of empty beer kegs by bottle and can pickers in the off campus housing areas. These can-pickers would enter uninvited into the back of frat houses or screen porches to steal the empty kegs.
The empty kegs were then taken to crooked party stores in the area that would pay the can pickers half of the then $10 (now $30) deposit on the kegs. It is pretty obvious that the party store clerks knew the kegs were stolen since they only paid the poor — usually homeless — can-picker half of what it was legitimately worth. Hopefully, the keg registration law has slowed that phenomenon.
The spring party on Greenwood also reminds us that the end of the term and the beginning of summer is right around the corner. Students will again be subletting their apartments for the summer. Sublet apartments enhance the job security of the officers on the Ann Arbor Police Department.
Some students will be so desperate to sublet their apartment for the summer that they will not bother to check out who they are subletting to. The sublet apartments will turn into party and flophouses for the subletter and all of their friends. In the worse cases the sublet apartment will turn into a dope house. It happens to about one or two sublet rentals a year.
In the cases where sublets turn into dope houses, it affects the whole neighborhood. Not only have criminals who are selling drugs joined the neighborhood, but all their criminal buddies and junkies forced to steal to feed their addiction are now coming and going in the neighborhood. Thefts, home invasions and robberies follow.
College town cops are pretty familiar with this cycle, and steps are taken each year to identify the problem addresses as quickly as possible. Special attention is placed on the problem address in an attempt to convince the criminal sub-letters to move their operations elsewhere. Simply put, the criminal subletters are either arrested or get sick of the police attention and “zero tolerance” enforcement of the law in the area and slither off to afflict some other place.
The police are then free to answer the noisy party complaints at the other sublets. The problem with those parties is mostly the problem of the original renter and the landlord. Sub-letters do not take the same level of care that people whose names are on leases or deeds take to protect property.
In August, when the original renter comes back to start the fall term, there will be a spike in home invasion and larceny reports in the off-campus housing area. Apartments themselves and basement storage areas will be the targets of summer thieves masquerading as party-goers.
Even if the original renter trusts the person they sublet to, they can not control the friends invited in by the sub-letter. Furthermore parties attract crowds and all sorts of people show up for parties. Some of them would rather steal than socialize.
Therefore if you know someone who will be subletting his apartment this summer, convince him to take his valuables with him. Anything of value or items the original renter would not want to be stolen or trashed should be packed up and taken home.
This is also one instance where leaving a friend or neighbor in charge of one’s belongings may be too tall an order for a well-meaning person — especially if strangers have sub-let other rooms or apartments.
Students should also realize that chicken wire and 2x4-inch constructed storage lockers in the basement are not secure. Those structures may keep honest people out but are not secure for anything of real value. These storage lockers are easily entered, even if the best lock is installed.
To all the students: Good luck on your finals, but please take your valuables with you when you leave town for the summer. For the townies that share the neighborhood with off-campus housing units — keep an eye on them and report suspicious activities and parties to the police.
Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.