Downtown Dallas Safety Meeting Draws Dozens

Dozens of downtown Dallas residents are packing a restaurant Monday to hear from police following the vicious assault and carjacking of an unsuspecting school teacher last week.

Dallas police confirm that Sarah Hoff was pulled out of her car, beaten and carjacked by two strangers behind the eighth-floor secured gate of The Davis Building parking garage Thursday night.

No one has been arrested in the attack, and so far police haven't identified any suspects.

Still, police say downtown crime is rare – and crime numbers year-to-date show that downtown is safer now than it's been in years.

New numbers compiled Monday show that compared to January 2015, overall crime in downtown Dallas specifically is down 10 percent.

Police last month also boosted their downtown presence in the overnight hours, creating a special "first-watch" shift that adds two dozen DPD officers patrolling the downtown streets.

But the recent attack and carjacking has many residents scared and wondering if more should be done.

"I live here single and all alone, and I'm very much a downtown resident. I shop downtown, I eat downtown, I walk downtown. So I'm very concerned about my safety here," said The Davis resident Princess Pope, who also owns a downtown fashion boutique. "I'm actually shocked that this happened."

Other tenants say car break-ins are common in the parking garage, and assaults – while infrequent – still happen outside.

Tracy Nanthavonga's friend was recently attacked.

"He was waiting for us at the elevator, and some guys hit him and ran off before we even got there," he said.

Mimi Digiammo just moved to downtown Dallas Monday from Boston.

"I just got off the plane from Boston not even an hour ago. Just got an Uber here and I'm moving in today," she said.

She didn't know about Thursday night's carjacking inside the secured gate of her new apartment, and said she definitely plans on attending the 6 p.m. crime and safety meeting at The Woolworth restaurant on Elm Street.

"I wasn't sure if I wanted to even bring my car with me to Dallas since I thought living and working downtown is such a convenience," she said. "But at the last minute I decided to ship it because I said it's nice to have a car and it's a nice, safe parking garage. So now I don't know if that's a good idea, it's pretty scary."

John Crawford runs Downtown Dallas, Inc. and says downtown's population has exploded over the last few years, growing from a few thousand residents to more than 10,000 last year – with thousands of additional apartment or condo units currently under construction.

And while crime happens, it's statistically uncommon.

"Welcome to the big city. Dallas is a big city, downtown is booming, and crime can happen," he said. "But it's not rampant. Certainly when something happens downtown it's magnified about 200 percent, but this is a very unusual thing."

Residents say The Davis building property managers let all the tenants know about the robbery and carjacking in an e-mail over the weekend.

And, residents say the lighting in the garage has been improved recently.

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