Just a week after helping police capture a suspected burglar, Virginia Highland residents are already on the alert for another wanted man.
Atlanta Police have asked residents to be on the lookout for Michael Ted Hawkins, who is wanted on an arrest warrant in Michigan for "failing to appear," Atlanta Police told Patch.
This man came to the attention of police because several VaHi residents reported him on their Yahoo Group message board, vhlist. This information was then passed along to authorities, according to John Wolfinger, coordinator of the VaHi neighborhood watch.
Neighbors reported a white man in his 40s wearing white painter’s paints and a white T-shirt, knocking on doors and offering to clean gutters.
“[He] is VERY persistent when people tell him ‘no,’" Wolfinger told police in an email. “They report having a hard time getting rid of him, and he is alarming a lot of residents here.”
Some residents also captured a picture of the man on their security camera and posted it to the vhlist. A neighbor then recognized him as someone they hired to clean their gutters and who keeps coming back to their house on a regular basis. They also knew his name, Wolfinger told police.
This led police to inform VaHi residents that Hawkins is wanted in Michigan for failure to appear and to be on the lookout for him.
“The current BOLO [be on the lookout] for Michael Ted Hawkins is another example of how the message boards connect people with different people adding pieces together to form a total identification of Hawkins. Thanx to several folks we have pix of him at a front door and we know his name because someone remembered from a previous experience with him,” Wolfinger told Patch in an email.
VaHi residents are asked to call 911 if they see Hawkins.
Just last week, VaHi neighbors helped police capture Charles Echols, who is facing 14 charges related to burglaries in several neighborhoods.
“Virginia Highland is an extraordinary community in terms of our awareness of and involvement with public safety,” Kay Stephenson, a street captain for Rosedale Drive, told Patch by email after Echols’ arrest.
Besides having an extensive neighborhood watch, many residents subscribe to the vhlist and other communications tools to stay on top of what is happening and to share information, she said.
“Knowing that our neighbors are watching out for us and are willing to report suspicious behavior to police lets us all feel more secure in our homes. Hopefully as perpetrators continue to be caught, due in part to this involvement of the community, they will learn that Virginia Highland is not a good place to ply their trade,” Stephenson said.
Wolfinger told Patch, “We are all in this together and it demands teamwork from citizens and APD to come up with solutions to our safety problems.”