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Home invasions in North Fulton are tough cases to solve

Over the past three years cities in north Fulton have witenssed six home invasions. As of the time of this writing arrests have been made in only one case. It’s an unfortunate reality of this growing crime in the affluent burbs. Let’s review the six cases.

January 2009 – Roswell

The owner of a pawn shop and his family were the victims of a home invasion in the Horseshoe Bend neighborhood of Roswell. He was pistol whipped and tied up with the rest of his family. The criminals made off with cash but were apprehended a few days later.

January 2009 – Johns Creek

Father and son business owners were tied up at home and robbed. The perps didn’t let a fence and card-swipe gate keep them from getting to the home. They targeted the victims based on the possibility of cash being in the home and made off with over $13,000 and some jewelry. No arrests have been made.

January 2010 – Johns Creek

Five or six men wearing ski masks invade a home in the Colony Glen neighborhood of Johns Creek. They tie the family up and assault them before kidnapping one victim. They drive him to Dunwoody before releasing him, making off with his car.

The victims of this crime were believed to be themselves involved in illegal activities. They moved away from Johns Creek within weeks of this crime. And despite offering a cash reward, police have been unable to make arrests in this case.

March 2010 – Johns Creek

Criminals targeted a family running a business out of their home. The family was zip tied while criminals ransacked the home. No arrests have been made.

September 2011 – Alpharetta

Men with ski masks and semi-automatic handguns storm a home in the Glen Abbey neighborhood of Alpharetta. They tie up the family and threaten them, making off with jewelry.

November 2011 – Alpharetta

On the eve of Thanksgiving bandits raid a home in the Park Glenn neighborhood. The crime is similar to Alpharetta’s previous home invasion. The perps make off with jewelry, cash and other valuables. Police are still investigating.

Thanks to Rosemary Taylor in Johns Creek for providing updates on some of these cases.

Photo Credit: SieBot (creative commons)

Home invasion suspects target Indian business owners

Roots in Alpharetta Exclusive

At least three recent home invasions in the northern suburbs of Atlanta have something in common – the victims were of south Asian/Indian heritage.

East Cobb – July 11, 2011 - An Indian family of four was tied up and forced into a bedroom while masked and armed bandits ransacked their home. Four men are wanted by police.

Alpharetta – September 15, 2011 - A group of three masked and armed robbers invaded a home in the Glen Abbey subdivision of Alpharetta. They bound and gagged the family and spent an hour stealing jewelry and cash. The victims were of Indian ancestry.

Alpharetta – November 23, 2011 - A group of five armed men rob a family living in the Park Glenn subdivision off Webb Bridge Road. Additional details have not been released at this time. The victims are believed to be Indians.

Alpharetta police are working to connect the city’s two recent home invasions with others in metro Atlanta involving Indian victims.

— Developing —

Park Glenn home invasion and lack of media coverage

On Wednesday evening at 8:00pm, the night before Thanksgiving, an armed home invasion occurred in the Park Glenn subdivision near Webb Bridge Middle School. Fox 5 in Atlanta first broke the story on Thanksgiving Day. Next came Bob Pepalis with the Alpharetta Patch who wrote a story on Friday interviewing neighbors. If you are a concerned resident and want more information on this violent crime, you’re out of luck. Even six days after the crime, no other media outlets have covered this story. Absolutely none.

It stands in stark contrast to a similar home invasion which occurred on September 15th in the Glen Abbey area of Alpharetta. Stories of this home invasion were all over the papers and television.

I’m sure newsrooms were thinly staffed on Thanksgiving. Friday was a different matter. Reporters were camped out at North Point Mall reporting on Black Friday shopping nonsense. Meanwhile a vitally important story continued to go unreported.

I’m thankful that no one was hurt during this crime. I’m also thankful for the Alpharetta public safety officers who worked this case and were away from their families while doing so.

I write this post in an effort to bring a bit more attention to the story and to hold the media accountable. I’m very disappointed in their inaction. I also think it is worth mentioning that Alpharetta is still a very safe city. It may not seem or feel that way given recent developments. I hope to have more to say about this and home invasions in general in future posts.


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Fights at Alpharetta High School and Social Media

Alpharetta High School has a positive climate and students are extremely well behaved, respectful and exhibit mature behavior and attitudes to each other and to the faculty and staff. 

These are words from a school quality review conducted at Alpharetta High School. They were quoted by principal Shannon Kersey in an email to parents yesterday. It was an attempt to put a positive spin on news of terrible and violent fights at the school this week.

Selected tweets this week from Alpharetta HS students

And I’m sure these words are very true when describing Alpharetta High. The timing of the study is ironic. Social media channels have been abuzz this week with reports of multiple fights, trips to the hospital and even disturbing pictures. One camera phone pic I observed on twitter showed blood smeared on a cinder block wall. It contained the caption “It’s not right without a fight…Alpharetta high school is now in the running for most ghetto.” Another student tweet from earlier this week read “Only the ambulance would come for a fight at Alpharetta.”

Was the violence at AHS exacerbated by the use of social media? Or did it just help spread the news? Hundreds of students walk the halls with iPhones that can blast pictures to friends and in seconds. Principal Kersey seems to acknowledge this in her letter, saying “this particular altercation has received more attention because some students photographed the location of the incident with their cell phones and shared the images through social media.” Students can communicate in stunningly rapid and effective ways. It’s a new reality that school administrators just have to deal with.

I don’t think administrators need to dwell on social media but rather focus their attention on the troublesome students who bring violence into this good school. Fights are nothing new. Those who engage in violence at school should be given swift and certain punishment that includes expulsion. None of that should change.

I hope next week brings calm to the halls of Alpharetta High School. Please keep these students in your thoughts and prayers over the weekend.

Paul Oakes incident leads to internal investigation

On Friday I wrote about the Wills Park incident involving a Roswell mother who accused Paul Oakes of harming her child on a swing. More details have come up in the case. Among them are:

  • The mother of the victim has filed a complaint with respect to the police officers’ handling of the investigation. The complaint has resulted in an internal affairs investigation, according to James Drinkard, assistant city administrator.
  • No incident report was was filed by police officers on the date of the actual incident, Saturday October 15th. It took a visit to the Alpharetta police station by the victim’s mother before an incident report would be filed.
  • The police officers initially classified this incident at a “miscellaneous report”. The result of this classification means that the incident is NOT included on crime maps and statistics published by the city, according to Drinkard. However, a check on the city’s website tonight shows that the incident now appears, labeled as an assault/simple battery.
  • The man accused, Paul Oakes, is on the board of the Alpharetta Public Safety Foundation. His wife is Cheryl Oakes, a city council member. Ms. Oakes is the council liaison to the public safety department.

The AJC is now reporting on this issue in an article that goes to print in tomorrow’s edition. In the article, the responding officers are described as giggling after talking with Oakes after the incident. The article also says that Cheryl Oakes hung up on reporters when they called.

On a personal note… I was the first to publish Paul Oakes’ name in connection to this incident, something WSB-TV didn’t do in their initial reporting. Things got ugly in the comments of my blog, on twitter and in email. I was personally insulted, accused of being irresponsible and sleazy. Another accused me of orchestrating a smear campaign. I trust that those same individuals are directing similar language to the AJC’s editors today. Nevertheless, it was for this reason that I closed comments last Friday. I also feared that both campaigns might try to politicize the topic on my blog.

The “Wacky World” Incident – Paul Oakes

On Tuesday WSB-TV broke a story involving an incident at the Wacky World portion of Wills Park. A woman alleges that a man yelled at her four year old child, yanked at a swing and caused her to fall to the ground.

What the WSB article didn’t mention was the name of the alleged¬†assailant, Paul Oakes. Oakes is the husband of Alpharetta City Councilwoman Cheryl Oakes. Both Cheryl and Paul Oakes sit on the board of the Alpharetta Public Safety Foundation, according to that charity’s website.

According to George Gordon with the Alpharetta Public Service Department, the victim’s mother chose not to press charges at the time the police report was filed. However, she has since been in contact with Alpharetta police and expressed a desire to have charges brought. No charges have been filed at this time and police refuse to answer additional questions, citing an ongoing investigation.

This blogger has obtained copies of the incident report from the Alpharetta Police Department via an open records request. A PDF of the full report can be downloaded from this link.

The narrative of that report is reprinted here in its entirety…

 

I met a Christole Abdelmaseh at the Alpharetta Police Department. Abdelmaseh wanted to discuss an incident that she said occurred at the Wacky World section of Wills Park, 11925 Wills RD in the City of Alpharetta on 10/15/2011. Abdelmaseh explained that at approximately 1800 hrs 10/15/2011 she was at the park with her three children, ages 10 mos, 3 yrs and 4 yrs respectively. Christole explained that she turned away from her daughter briefly and was helping her son up some steps when she heard the loud voice of a man yelling. Abdelmaseh turned to see that her 4 year old daughter was on a swing, laying on her belly across the seat portion of the swing. Abdelmaseh said that she then saw the man who was yelling lift the swing up in the air with her daughter still in it. Abdelmaseh said her daughter was trying to hold onto the chains of the swing when the man yanked the swing downward causing the child to fall onto the ground, striking her back and head. Abdelmaseh said she ran to her child and confronted the man. Abdelmaseh said the man told her that his granddaughter wanted the swing, and that Abdelmaseh’s daughter wouldn’t get off the swing. Abdelmaseh said that she told the man that he should have found the child’s parent before he dumped her off the swing.

Abdelmaseh said that she summoned police to respond to the park and was met by two Alpharetta Police officers. Abdelmaseh said that the two officers spoke to the man, but did not find any independent witnesses to what occurred. Abdelmaseh said that she then gathered her children to leave the park because she and her daughter were very upset. Abdelmaseh said that is when a man approached her and said “You know who that is, right?” Abdelmaseh responded that she did not. The man told Abdelmaseh that the man was “Paul Oakes, Cheryl Oakes’ husband”, and then told her “look him up.” Abdelmaseh said that when she got home she used Google and found images of “Paul Oakes”. Abdelmaseh claimed that the images were of the same man that pushed her daughter out of the swing at the park.

Abdelmaseh said that her daughter has no visible injuries to document, but was very frightened by the man yelling at her at the park. Abdelmaseh said that her daughter has been very upset and woke up crying multiple times throughout the night. Abdelmaseh asked for documentation of this incident. She provided a written statement, which was placed in the records inbox. Abdelmaseh did not bring her daughter with her to the police station so I was not able to observe or speak to her. I did not speak to Paul Oakes. I gave Abdelmaseh a business card with my contact information on it as well as the incident number 1110-0323.

He’s the Duke of Germany and He Needs a Bath

I’m not a police detective, but I do play one in the blogosphere. So this article on the ajc.com caught my eye this afternoon. Let me set the stage a little.

Dateline: Roswell, GA. It is middle of the afternoon in a quiet neighborhood. The lady of the house arrives to find a man taking a shower. She strikes up a conversation with the man while he’s in the act. It seems that the man is not her husband or otherwise an acquaintance, although the AJC article isn’t real clear on this point. I’m thinking that isn’t the case because shortly thereafter Roswell SWAT arrives on the scene.

So it is safe to say this isn’t your ordinary shower. But wait, it gets better. The cops eventually get the man out of the house. He identifies himself only as The Duke of Germany. I know what you’re thinking… royalty, right here in Roswell!

So Herr Duke is arrested and taken to the north Fulton jail. Yet in a bit of brilliant journalism, the AJC ends the short article by saying “The motive is unclear, and the man has yet to be identified.” Um, hello? He’s the Duke of Germany and he needed a bath. This guy walks on diplomatic immunity.

Home Invasion/Kidnapping in Johns Creek

Just when I get done talking about how there is almost no violent crime in the northern burbs… Several Atlanta news sources are reporting of a home invasion and kidnapping this morning in Johns Creek. The details are sketchy at this point. It sounds like at least five perps entered a home in the Glen Colony neighborhood. They tied up the family and kidnapped the father. He was later found in Dunwoody. WSB is reporting that they were looking for specific items in the house.

I’m not a detective or journalist. What I’m about to say is complete speculation. This sounds very similar to a violent home invasion last year in Roswell. In that case, the man they were after was the owner of a pawn shop. My speculation on this case is that this kidnapped man was a business owner of some kind. The criminals probably got wind that he was in possession of something valuable, something that perhaps he would not have for long. It might have been cash, but who knows. But they had specific information. They probably didn’t plan to kidnap the man, but I’m guessing that whatever they were looking for wasn’t in the home, and thus the trek to Dekalb county.

Again, just speculation. We’ll have to see the details as they emerge.

We live in an affluent burb. As I’ve talked about before, just about everyone out here earns a bunch of money. Many flaunt their wealth with fancy cars, jewelry and toys. Yet even with all that, I think you’ve got to be careful with how you broadcast your wealth. Be guarded in what you tell people. Did you inherit some valuable piece of jewelry recently? Are you moving your coin collection from one bank’s safe box to another? Do you have a large cash deposit to make after the weekend is over? Don’t go blabbin’ about this stuff! Loose lips sink ships, and they can get your stuff robbed! While you may trust your friends, they could tell others, who tell others. The next thing you know, half a dozen thugs are in your home at 7:00am on a Saturday wrapping duct tape around your wife’s arms.

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