Flash: Daring Master Criminal Stalking Regent Square

Armed robbery in Regent Square

The headline is a joke -- this is not about daring or master criminals.


You know very well, of course, that crime can happen anywhere, to anybody. That's just how it is.


But it's particularly galling here in our neighborhood when the victim is a wee-tiny, soft-spoken middle aged woman with a thing for furry creatures like Nina Wolf, who had a pistol shoved in her face by a young punk this week.


Wolf operates Animal Nature on Forbes Avenue (part of the Alma Restaurant development) and an easier target you couldn't find. And maybe that's the point. We call them punks because they take the easiest route to money, preying on the easiest victims.


Animal Nature is a particularly delightful, innocent sort of place that sells unusual pet goodies, supports lots of public service activities, and has one of the snappiest websites in the city. See: www.animalnature.net. I snitched a couple of photos from the website to give you a taste.


If this suspect, this same man -- if I may use the word -- tried this stunt at, say, The Boomerang on Monongahela or The Pub In The Park on Blackhawk, they'd feed him his pistol -- where the sun doesn't shine.


The Animal Nature stick-up is not unlike another scary hold-up down the street along Trenton Avenue a couple of years ago when a gang of so-called men robbed an evening meeting of middle-aged women at the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association office.


Mind you, there's no cash register or merchandise at the non-profit Nine Mile -- unless you want to steal rain barrels. These tough guys robbed the board members of their personal effects like wallets, credit cards and phones. 


Even the stupidest drug-craving loser knows you can't do much more than barter that stuff on the street for maybe a dime on the dollar. But you sure can wreck the life of the victims, who have to report and replace all those belongings that are rich with their personal and credit information.


Folks who live here have noticed that punk-driven crime tends to occur along the “seams” where Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and Swissvale touch one another. Is the police coverage adequate?


The police bosses point to shared dispatch centers and other cooperative initiatives and claim reponse times of under two minutes all throughout Regent Square. But reponse time matters only after something has gone wrong.


What about deterrence?


You’ll go a long, long time before you see a cop, any cop, patrolling Forbes and Braddock. You’ll go forever before you see one walking there.


So what’s the answer? Bouncers at the pet goods’ emporium? More cops? Fewer guns? Better people?


Don’t hold your breath.

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Visitor July 21, 2012 at 05:18 AM
>You’ll go a long, long time before you see a cop, any cop, patrolling Forbes and Braddock. You’ll go forever before you see one walking there. Are you serious? S. Braddock practically has police lurking at every corner. The area is crawling with patrol cars from Edgewood, Swissvale (and to a lesser extent) PIttsburgh. Oh, and don't forget that lovely camera set-up that Steve Z. is monitoring 24/7 and which captures and logs every single face and license plate that passes through the area.
Anne Davies July 21, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Yes, there are very often cops at the Forbes/Braddock intersection. They catch many who run the red light...either direction. Presumable they are also looking out for actual criminals.
cynthia savitt July 21, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Well said, William McCloskey.
Nettie Jane July 21, 2012 at 08:51 PM
well on the corner of Braddock and Forbes on Saturdays are ANTI WAR folks patrolling and standing up for Peace..
Morgan Hawkins Drain July 26, 2012 at 03:58 AM
On the contrary, there's been a cop standing there every day for the past week or so, staring at the constructions workers digging up the street to replace gas lines. :/ I wouldn't call this patroling so much as, well, standing around however. He wasn't even directing traffic; the construction workers were doing that too. Which, interestingly enough, was also going on the day Animal Nature was robbed. Did the assailant wait for the cop to leave the area? Was the cop still there? It was only 4:30 in the afternoon.
William McCloskey July 26, 2012 at 04:39 PM
... wondered about that guy, too. I think the deal is that -- although in uniform -- the officer was working for contractor under the city's rent-a-cop arrangement. We'll see lots of that this weekend with the Parkway closing and the Regent Square detour. Last I checked, the contractors pay the municipalities, which pay most of that hourly fee to the officers, who are working while off-duty. Seems murky to me what the officers' actual assignments, duties and priorities might be, but at least they're visible
Billy Fitzgerald August 01, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I wish Jimmy Conn still lived on East End Ave. That store has been robbed before, they should get a German Shepard and have it sitting out front at all times.
Nina Wolf August 03, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Hi all...Wolf here from Animal Nature. Yup, the police officer who was out front was part of the city contract, and the robbers apparently waited for the crew to leave. We have been robbed twice, both times the men have been on foot, and they have escaped through the neighborhoods, NOT through the main intersection. Other home invasions in Park Place had similar circumstances. The Pittsburgh Police said they had to come from far away. They can only get to us so fast, even with lights on, through the traffic made worse with construction. I wish it were easier to get Wilkinsburg and Edgewood police responding to calls at our address - they could be there faster. We do have big dogs around...but the big dogs frighten some customers, and aren't always great with kids/small dogs, etc. We try to balance all this, and help people understand. Working dogs are not pets, and when people come in to our store they expect pets. We just want to be good neighbors, good community members, and have a healthy business. It is hard enough to be a small business, and it is terribly frustrating to have this kind of thing to contend with making it yet more difficult. We can only say the people of Park Place and Regent Square have been wonderful, as always, and make it worth the effort. We will do all we can to stay in the area and do what we love. Thank you all for your help, your support, your patronage, and your good words. We really appreciate your kindness.


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