Sketchy Scenes in and Around the Park Cities

One night last weekend I was at Blockbuster, the Greenville/Lovers location, with one of my kids.  As we exited, two men were standing outside their car that was parked right next to mine. They yelled over to us, “Hey, I think I might have hit your car.” It seemed odd because I wasn’t sure how they knew which car was mine. It was dark and I felt uncomfortable but my car was parked pretty close to the door and these two guys were hunched over inspecting like there was a dent or something. I walked closer and saw nothing. One of the guys said, “I’m pretty sure it’s scratched. If you’ll drive it to the light maybe we can tell.” I got in and backed up to the light from the store’s front door instead of the parking lot light they motioned towards. There was NOTHING wrong with the car. I left.

Though it felt strange, they could have been legite. But something tells me they were sketchy characters.

Then yesterday a reader sent me a note about another unrelated but shady scene:

About 2 months ago my neighbor and I were talking in her front yard.  A woman in an older model blue SUV stopped short in front of us.  She was in tears and had a young boy, maybe 3-4 years old, in the back seat.  She told us her boyfriend was abusive and she was leaving him and returning to her family in Iowa.  Her gas tank was on empty and she needed about $20 in gas money to get her started on her trip.  My BS meter was in the red zone and I shot my neighbor a “this is fishy” look.  We then started listing off all the places she should go for help–one of the churches in the neighborhood, the Y, the cops.  She said she had been to several churches and they couldn’t do anything for her; she had been to the Y and they couldn’t offer her any assistance; she had been to rthe police and they couldn’t do anything.  I pulled out my phone and offered to call the cops for her, telling her they were really good and would be there within about 90 seconds.  She went on her way.

This afternoon she returned!  Same car, same tears, same boy in the back seat.  This time she drove up to a different neighbor with the same story.  My neighbor suggested the police, churches, Genesis, etc. but she had already checked with all of them and none could help.  She ended up driving off again.

Wondering if anyone else has been approached by this woman? She has brown wavy hair, is in her late 20s/early 30s and my biggest concern is the little boy–he always seems out of it while the tear-filled scene is going on.

Run into these or similar sketchy peeps?

37 thoughts on “Sketchy Scenes in and Around the Park Cities

  • April 27, 2011 at 9:13 am
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    Just great. I feel like a total moron. I gave this chick $100 around Christmas. She did a great acting job. I had just finished coaching a practice and had 2 boys with me. I thought it was a teachable moment. What a moron. I broke my own rule of not dishing out cash to panhandlers. I’m changing my name from grump to moron.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 9:28 am
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    I saw the same lady about a month ago – she drove up and had the same story about no money, no one would help. She said she had been to all the local churches. I also suggested the police and she drove off quickly when I mentioned that.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 9:40 am
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    This same woman approached me a couple of months ago when I was walking my dog. Since I used to be on the board of The Family Place Partners, I knew that her claim of no shelter or church being able to help her was bogus. I was only a few doors down from my own home, but since I was walking the dog, I had no purse and just told her I had no money to give her but would be glad to use my cell phone to call assistance for her. She threw her hands up in the air and got back in her vehicle.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 10:11 am
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    She got my wife yesterday. My wife had just left the ATM at the Wells Fargo on Mock and Preston. Pulled into our driveway and this women pulled in right behind. there was a kid in a car seat and the women got out with hysterical tears. She said her brother and mom were in a car wreck earlier in the week and that her brother had died. She had just found out that her mom was taken off life support. She kept saying she needed emergency help from a church. My wife asked if she could pray with her for her loss and asked there names. She told her they were Mary and Terry, red flag came up with her hesitant response and the rhyming names. She said her name was Laura. My wife took her hand and prayed with her and then asked what she was trying to do. She said Park Cities Baptist filled her car up with gas but that wasnt enough to get to Indiana. Realizing she had been had, my wife gave her 10 bucks and she was off. HPPD was driving the neighborhood and my wife told him the story…he said he has already had a report of her and that she has done this before.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 10:12 am
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    Three accounts of this woman. Can any of you say what part of town you saw her? I’m wondering if she concentrates on one side of town, if I should expect to see her over here, etc. Thanks!

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  • April 27, 2011 at 10:34 am
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    @UP Dad–Twice on the 4100 block of Normandy. She drives an older model dark blue SUV (Pathfinder?) and seems to always have all 4 windows rolled all the way down.

    Let’s try to get her license plate number so we have something to give the police.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 10:44 am
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    I suspect the little boy is masterminding this whole ordeal.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 11:09 am
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    @matt or the little boy is doped up on benedryl

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  • April 27, 2011 at 11:11 am
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    Don’t forget the greasy haired guy in the Oak Lawn area who carries a satchel and always needs money to buy oil for his car. One of PC People’s bloggers wrote about him a year or two ago. I had encountered him at Subway and saw him since at two different Walgreens.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 11:17 am
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    @UPDad – 4400 block of Shenandoah

    @matt – I suspect the boy may be the love child of this women and the infamous window washer.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 11:32 am
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    This happened to me yesterday around 5pm. (4000 blk Shenandoah)

    She pulled up in a black four door Jeep Cherokee (older model) and had a little girl that looked Hispanic in the back seat. There was another car seat in the car but it was empty. This was a heavy set, Caucasian woman late 20’s early 30’s. She was crying and gave the same “my brother died” story.

    I suggested churches but she had “been to them all” and PCBC filled up her tank this am. Ok…so why hadn’t she already been driving North then? I didn’t ask. I told her how sorry I was, that I don’t ever carry cash and I could only suggest she go to the police or try another church. (i found it very odd she had hit up allllllll the churches around here).

    I felt badly about not helping her but it was so odd how brazen she was and esp. if her tank was full why wasn’t she on her way to see her family?

    I saw a police vehicle and the officer was talking to another lady who had stopped him, I am assuming to let him know that this person was making her rounds.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 11:47 am
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    I was approached by the lady as well. I also told her the local churches etc… Would offer assistance. When I didn’t offer her money she drove off.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 11:53 am
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    I had this kid come to my front door in a boy scout uniform (of all things) selling incredibly over-priced batteries. I fell for that … boy do I feel silly!

    😉

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  • April 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm
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    Merritt-not meaning to get off the woman and boy story, I find that parking lot by Blockbuster to be a little fishy. I was once approached by a guy at the Subway that is near there to buy magazines. When I refused he cussed me out like none other. It was daylight and it was a frightening experience. I think for women these types of interactions are a whole different ball game than they are for men. I always feel like I have a whole set of “single young woman rules” that may be different than what others have. Kind of like I have to view anybody who ever approaches me through the lens of suspicion.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm
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    Medallion Center Target: There is a woman who I have seen at least 5 times in the past few months dressed in hospital scrubs/nurse outfit wearing 3-4 ID badges either on her shirt or on a neck lanyard. She approaches me everytime I have visited the store. Her story is that she is an RN and her car just ran out of gas or is about to and she needs some gas money to make it into work. Her story differs each time just a little. Sometimes she is on her way to surgery, once she was a midwife on her way to deliver a baby etc. She drives a late model import, maybe a Kia or Toyota.

    I never give money to people asking for it in parking lots but will help someone if they need it. If the woman had a flat, I would have changed it. If she needed to call someone, I would have done it. I flat refuse to give people money. Second time I saw this fake nurse woman, I started cussing at her the second she opened her mouth.

    Tom Thumb at Old Town: Family of five approaches me in parking lot saying that their car was just towed by the Dallas Police Department because the father accidentally let the insurance lapse. They need a ride back to Oak Cliff. It’s about 8pm on a weeknight. I pointed to the Lovers Lane DART Station and said that they could jump on a train and if asked by a DART officer for fare, they should just point to their Dallas Police Citation and should be able to ride the train for free. Nope. They wanted/needed money. I then offered them a ride home. I have a large SUV and could take them back home, they would be back home in 15 minutes. No. They wanted money. I left. Three days later, same family back again. Same story. What BS.

    Pregnant Gypsy Teenage Girls at Preston Center: In the past year I have seen three different times pregnant teenage gypsy girls holding their stomachs and begging for money at Pei Wei and Sonic. They use the deaf-mute tactic of holding up a dirty piece of paper saying they are hungry and need food. In Europe, the shopkeepers throw buckets of water on them for that.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm
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    i lived downtown Chicago for 15 years. There are so many scams out there you just can’t believe it. I would NEVER believe any story from someone approaching me randomly like that, and these people have no shame in using their children to play the part too. Lets hope everyone has read the above comments and the next person that is approached can play along long enough to get her lisc. plate!

    Also, the blockbuster story really scares me, in chicago they would do set ups where a car would intenionally tap your car from behind then an accomplice would carjack you when you got out of the car to see the damage. BE CAREFUL!

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  • April 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm
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    I was approached at Hyer Elem. 7pm.. by the crying scammer woman with a child in the backseat, of her dark, older, SUV, while watching my child play at the Hyer playground, she gave me the exact same story, about her Ohio family in a deadly accident and needing cash to travel since the churches and police were unable to help her…she is a great actress — actually crying and sobbing real tears on que! WE NEED HER LICENSE PLATE turned over to the police. Her child should be in protective custody. I pray the police will find out who she is for the sake of that child, who will certainly become the next generation of criminal, if not saved from her, very soon.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm
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    Could we have the HPPD or UPD advise us on the best way to deal with these 2 types of events (the crying mother and the Blockbuster parking lot car damage)? Thank you.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm
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    “Realizing she had been had, my wife gave her 10 bucks and she was off.” – so your wife realized it was a scam and still gave her money? will you send me $10?

    – she must be successful at it if she’s able to afford $3.79/gallon and still make profit.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 7:27 pm
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    I am the neighbor of the first person who posted this. I was walking home from the Y on Normandy and she pulled up to me, same story others report about brother killed in a wreck in Indiana and mother in a coma. I told A.B. (who posted this) and she immediately remembered the same lady from a month or two ago. It’s an older, dark blue SUV. The kid in the back has long dark hair. Be careful, she is a good actress. I’m more concerned about the poor kid in the back.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm
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    Same woman in the dark, older model Jeep Cherokee with the long-haired boy in the back approached me a few months ago while I was in my front yard. Same story–no churches would help her, all shelters were full. I came out with a couple of water bottles and some food and she sped away. The image of that little boy’s face still hurts my heart.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm
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    @TR

    I bought the batteries too! I needed some for my tv remoteand guess what?
    They did not work. 🙁

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  • April 27, 2011 at 10:08 pm
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    This woman & her child confronted me TWICE within a week several months ago- both times parked at UP Elem on north side of Lovers. As she was talking through the open windows, trying to get me to approach, (“out of gas, station wouldn’t take her credit card”) I knew it was a scam. I was with my kids & all I was concerned with was their safety, because my car was 2 past hers. Blue 4 door older model SUV.

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  • April 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm
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    This lady sounds like a “traveller”. Are there white gypsy settlements in Dallas?

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  • April 28, 2011 at 1:27 am
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    I’ve lived in San Francisco off and on all my life. Every summer I have to put up with those panhandlers. The “gas trick” is a favorite of those. Especially in the ‘burbs. The only time I gave money to someone was this twenty something girl, clean and sitting on a bench asking people for money to buy a beer. I went in a bought her a 12oz.can and she thanked me, got up and left asking no one else for money. I may have been enabling her, but at least she was honest for what she needed the money for and I respected that. Oh, and I did ID her!

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  • April 28, 2011 at 8:51 am
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    Kroger on Mockingbird has worked very hard to clean up their unwanted visitors. But for a while a chubby 25ish white woman with white, black and blue dreadlocks and a fake brit accent was approaching people in the store asking them to buy her debit card ( think it was a WIC or food stamp card). She said it had $100 of credit on it but the pharmacy wouldnt take it because it was only for groceries. She would part with it for $25 because she needed her meds. The store cop said she has been banned from all Krogers but have heard she has been seen elsewhere.

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  • April 28, 2011 at 9:14 am
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    How about this. Put the dispatch numbers for the UP and HP Police Departments in your phone now:

    UPPD: 214-363-3000
    HPPD: 214-987-5355

    Next time the lady approaches one of you tell her that you would be glad to help but you don’t have your wallet, or enough cash, with you so you will have to call your husband/wife. Instead, call the police dispatch number and tell them that you need help and cash immediately for a woman who needs “gas money because of a death or whatever.” Insist that someone bring $100 or $200 immediately (the bigger the amount the more likely the woman will sit around and wait). The dispatcher will surely be aware of the scam and send a unit right away to put an end to this mess.

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  • April 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm
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    To Plan Ahead from UPPD

    The HPPD number you have listed is not correct. That is the number for the University Park Police Department’s Administration. Thanks for your help but the correct number to call at UPPD would be 9-1-1. While this may not seem like an emergency, a call to this line ensures we get an officer to the area as soon as possible to locate this individual and enables us to record all information needed. You need to check on the HPPD numaber with HPPD as I do not know how they prefer to handle such a matter.

    Gary W. Adams
    Chief of Police
    University Park, Texas

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  • April 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm
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    @ Plan Ahead–great idea. I have the UPPD phone number in my phone but I love your angle on how to use it. Awesome!

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  • April 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm
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    How timely that I would see this now. At book club this week 2 of my friends said the same woman approached them with the same song and dance. One was outside Hyer elementary late afternoon and one was sitting on her front porch near the Highland Park library. Both happened within the last 2 weeks. One of them gave her $20.

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  • April 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm
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    Chief Adams, I looked at the UP website yesterday and was unable to determine what number to call to reach the police so I called the main number and asked what number I should call to reach the police for a non-emergency situation. I was told the number I listed above would go directly to the dispatcher: UPPD: 214-363-3000

    As detailed on your website 911 calls can go almost anywhere depending on where the phone was purchased and who is the carrier. But, if you say 911 it will be 911.

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  • April 28, 2011 at 11:46 pm
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    Why are we bothering the police with this?

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  • April 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm
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    Do we really tie up a 911 line for this?

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  • April 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm
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    Aha. Maybe this explains the HP DPS blockade of an ordinary woman in her early to mid-thirties up at HP Village last week. But she was in a dark green Honda small SUV. I asked them what was going on, but Officer Ray-Bans refused to give me an answer. Although he did yell at me.

    2 women on Friday (one young and white in a maxi-dress, one young and black in underwear/theoretical shorts) wandered up and down Normandy and San Carlos between Douglas and Armstrong, for hours. Both acted drunk and tried to engage people out in their front yards. No idea if they did anything other than act like drunk Harry Hines transplants. It was this past Monday, now that I think about it.

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  • April 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm
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    Sally&3- thanks so much for bringing this to everyone’s attention-Very important! Just remember to keep your paws off the married guys over at the Y! haha!

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  • May 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm
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    She pulled up to me today in the parking lot behind Quatrine/On the Border in a dark blue Older model Jeep Cherokee. She asked if I was familiar with the area so I approached to see what I could do to help her. Then I saw the child (either a little girl or boy with long hair) in the backseat and remembered reading about this lovely con artist. She started to give me her sob story and I told her I couldn’t help and walked away. I was very tempted to ask that poor child how many times a day he/she had to hear that story. I was also very tempted to give her a piece of my mind – but couldn’t do it with the little passenger staring at me. I did, however, take a picture of her SUV and I have her license plate number. Chief Adams, if you need it, let me know 🙂

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  • June 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm
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    She stopped me today at Inwood and the Tollway. Asked if I was familiar with the area. I said no and acted disinterested. However, I noticed the young boy crying in the back seat and I knew at that moment! She didn’t ask me for money (I didn’t give her a chance), so I really don’t have a reason to report the situation to the police. I followed her to get her license plate number.

    Last seen at Forest and Inwood about 4:45. She headed west on Forest.

    Found lots more information about her here including name (Jillian “Jill” Johnson) and pictures from about 2-3 years ago. She hasn’t aged well. Also, the crying boy in the back seat is a new addtion to her con.

    She did respond to this blog post http://www.davisvoice.com/2010/05/crying-girl-grifter-at-large-in-davis/ and they traced her IP address to Vacaville California. It is near Sacramento.

    Sounds like she can get angry and violent. Be careful!

    More info here: http://daviswiki.org/crying_girl_con_artist

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