By Rob Suggs For The Crier
Just a walk in the park—nothing could seem safer or more pleasant on a weekend morning. Yet some Dunwoody residents are discovering that even such a public, outdoor setting may not be that secure. The Henry Jones Dog Park at Brook Run, a fenced area where unleashed animals can enjoy the outdoors, is a popular destination for pet enthusiasts. The area is situated at the rear of the park, however, far from traffic and the on-duty security guards who monitor daily activities at Brook Run.
On September 22, a Dunwoody woman was walking her two dogs at the park when she noticed a suspicious man near one of the park's unused dorm buildings. The man had backed his blue GMC pickup truck close to the facility. As soon as the dog-walker, who prefers not to be named, became curious, a second individual materialized. This one, a woman driving a Nissan, struck up a vague conversation on the subject of dogs.
“It occurred to me that this woman was trying to distract me while her partner did whatever he was doing,” said the regular park user. “Then I saw the man carrying something out of the building, and I just decided I didn’t want to be around anymore.”
The following morning, however, she decided to walk her two dogs again. She immediately noticed the same two people and their vehicles, and she checked in immediately with the security guard.
“They claimed to be joggers,” the guard told her. “But they seemed a little suspicious to me.” The guard called 911, and the call resulted in five arrests; the original two individuals, who were taking items from the abandoned building, had brought three additional accomplices on Sunday morning.
Items removed included copper wiring and air-conditioning equipment. DeKalb police investigator S. Jones said that apparently the thieves were crystal methylamphetamine users desperate to procure anything they might sell for drug money.
The incident has once again raised the issue of public safety in North DeKalb parks. Laine Sweezey, president of Just a Walk in the Park (www.jawitp.com), a volunteer organization of Henry Jones Dog Park supporters, voiced a growing concern about the questionable location of the pet area, distant as it is from traffic and park security.
“It’s not uncommon for dog park visitors to find themselves alone in the park,” she comments. “The isolation is a little scary sometimes. We’re aware that no one would hear screams for help.”
Sweezey also said out that she has found the police and even the park security guards very slow in addressing problems that come up occasionally. She is currently renewing her efforts to arrange safety training by local law enforcement officials.
News of the recent arrests has left a number of park users nervous about their use of the outdoor areas—especially those who haven’t heard the news may be more at risk, for they may not realize that even a walk in the park should be undertaken with common-sense caution.
“I’ve been out there early in the morning, all by myself, too often,” said the woman who surprised the thieves. “We all need to just be a little more observant.”