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May 22, 2015

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law enforcement:

Danger can lurk even in familiar places

I love downtown Las Vegas. I’ve lived downtown for 10 years.

But downtown can be dangerous — even for those of us who are familiar with it and stay close to its well-traveled and well-lit areas.

I know because I was mugged in just such an area a few months ago. Maybe it was an anomaly. I’m just here to say it can happen.

After work on a Friday in early December, I went to my favorite Las Vegas pub, the Downtown Cocktail Room, just south of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. I met a few people there, quaffed a few drinks in honor of my birthday and around 11 p.m. headed to my car.

It was parked at a meter on Carson Avenue, just west of Sixth Street. I have seen derelicts and the homeless pass hipsters and professionals on that sidewalk with never a problem.

I also have seen security guards on bikes riding along the curb, but apparently there weren’t any nearby when I needed them.

I was 10 feet from my car when two young men in their late teens or 20s came across Carson and angled toward me. They pulled black-and-white checkered scarves over their faces and each put one hand in a pocket. They were acting like they had guns. In his other hand, the shorter of the two had a small cloth bag of what looked to be metallic marbles.

“Give us your money.”

“Sure.”

I reached in my pocket and came up with only $8. I don’t carry cash, usually, just cards.

They asked if I had a wallet.

Yes, I said.

“But I’m not giving it to you,” I added.

It had my ID in it. I could cancel my cards right away, and they would get nothing, so what was the point? It would be a hassle all the way around.

“Frisk him,” the taller one said.

As the short one walked toward me, I pulled out my phone, told them I was calling the cops and hit 911.

Wham!

I was whacked in the face with something hard. (I told some people I thought it might have been a high-flying martial art kick, but it was probably the bag of marbles.)

They ran north toward Fremont Street, then west toward the Fremont Street Experience. I ran down an alley to try to intercept them.

When I told this to a county employee later, she asked where I grew up.

“Wisconsin.”

“That explains why you ran after them,” she said.

By the time I got to Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard, police were swarming the area, and I filled in a dispatcher. I tried flagging down a cop, but he drove by.

I walked around a bit, then went home.

I was in shock — not just because my jaw was out of joint (it hurt for two weeks) — but because of where, when and how I had been mugged.

It was not 3 a.m. I was not in a dark area. I was not stumbling drunk.

I’m not “an easy mark.” I’m a fit man. If those “kids” were willing to try me, they would have no qualms about robbing just about anybody.

The lesson I took out of it was not to get too comfortable — even in the place I call home.

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