BE CAREFUL OUT THERE — CAR THIEVES HAVE UPPED THE ANTE
Since Thursday night, car thieves have been shooting at citizens.
These were not just any citizens, but those who seemed to have a sense that the vehicle in question was stolen. Citizens who were a bit too curious about the occupants and took a second look, if you will. Citizens who know a car theft when they see it.
“It’s gotten aggressive in the last few weeks,” said Floyd Hall, the man whose specialty is recovering cars that were stolen. The New York Times recently ran a feature story on him.
Hall doesn’t like the trend he sees of Wild West shooting, and he wants people to take it seriously. Although he has recovered as many as 80 cars so far this year, he’s also been shot at, and he and his loose knit team of car recovery enthusiasts are rightfully wary, with this latest trend.
The first in the string of car theft-related shootings occurred in Muldoon around 11:45 pm on Thursday. A couple who had a vehicle stolen from them in recent months were on their way into Anchorage from Eagle River, when they had to make a stop in Muldoon.
Because they now follow some of the citizen Facebook pages in Anchorage devoted to crime stopping, they are tuned to looking for stolen vehicles — after all, they know what it’s like to be victims.
They noticed vehicle they had recognized as stolen. They followed the car, a maroon Ford Taurus. But they didn’t follow closely.
When they came out of the 2nd and Fern Street area, the car suddenly was on them, following them back, and it started speeding up, slowing down, pulling alongside them, and finally a shot was fired at them. The couple was on the phone with police, and also was texting with Hall.
Hall told them the safest place they could go was to the nearest gate at JBER. The maroon Taurus sped away at about Turpin and Boundary. It was later recovered in a driveway at 35th and Baxter — with some tobacco and telltale cotton balls left behind. Cotton balls are typical for drug users who strain heroin before injecting it. Through cross-checking, the vehicle was found to have plates from a different vehicle.
Meanwhile, the couple was able to make a report to the police, but they were unnerved by the experience.
The second incident happened on Sunday. A woman in Mountainview drove her vehicle near Rose Davis Park, where she noticed a maroon SUV and two other SUVs that were silver and gold.
Some people — at least one described as Pacific Islander in origin, in the age range of 20-30 and with a beard, seemed to be engaged in an activity around them.
When the woman circled through a nearby street and came back to see if it still seemed suspicious to her, she decided to call 311, the non-emergency police line.
She saw the gold Tahoe-type vehicle with black wheels take off, and she snapped a blurry picture of it. And then she heard the pop and realized she was being shot at. She was still on hold with police and was sending text messages to Floyd Hall. Police finally arrived. One silver SUV was recovered, but one is still out there — with possible shooters driving it.
The third vehicle theft of the week that involved a shooting came Monday, April 23, at 4:25 am. Randy Rice woke up to find his maroon truck being stolen. He’d been a victim of a stolen car a year earlier.
He followed where he thought his truck was going and saw it at the Fred Meyer store parking lot in midtown.
Rice tried to block it but the person in his truck, a light-skinned black male, took off down Fireweed, going west. Just past C street, Rice’s stolen truck turned left, and that’s when about 10 rounds were popped off toward Rice, who was still pursuing in his other vehicle. He called police. The vehicle was found by one of the spotters that Floyd Hall works with. It was parked alongside the side street less than eight hours after being stolen. Rice was able to drive it home.
GAS STATION HEISTS
But those aren’t the only shootings of late. Gas stations are under attack, and now weapons are being brandished in broad daylight robberies.
On Tuesday, April 17, police responded to the Shell station at 810 W Tudor Road. The manager said four men approached the station in an older-model Chevy SUV. The driver stayed in the vehicle while the three passengers got out and walked into the business. Two of the suspects each grabbed a cash register off of the counter.
At that time, an employee walked out of the back room into the main area of the store. A third suspect saw the employee and fired a round with a shotgun. The three suspects backed out of the store carrying the cash registers and merchandise, as the shooter fired off two more rounds.
Fortunately, no injuries resulted.
That same night the Tesoro station on 500 Hollywood Drive in Government Hill was hit. Three men got out of a black Chevy Tahoe; one carried a shotgun, while the others took the cash register. No shots were fired. The Tahoe was later found burned and smoldering on Baxter Road.
DRUG DEALS GOING ON? CALL POLICE, DON’T GET SHOT
On March 17, police were dispatched to the 6600 block of Fairweather Drive, where a man saw two suspicious vehicles parked in front of an apartment complex he manages.
He approached and told the two men in the vehicles to leave the private property, and then he snapped pictures with his cell phone before getting into his car, where his pregnant wife was waiting. That’s when his rear windows were shot out.
Police determined that 26-year-old Rasean Daniels was responsible for the shooting and he was arrested on April 5 for attempted murder. The other suspect hasn’t been found.