A string of armed robberies have been going down in Las Olas lately, according to an announcement from Las Olas Village, a group that describes itself as an "urban renewal project dedicated to revitalizing a key section" of the area.
The group is calling for a bigger police presence in the area after what it's calling "a dangerous pattern of robberies" have been happening near Las Olas Boulevard.
Particularly, the group says at least one of the armed robberies have happened in the parking lots behind the restaurants Rocco's Tacos, located at 1313 E. Las Olas Blvd., and Fork & Balls, located at 1301 E. Las Olas Blvd. They also say there was a robbery that happened in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church, located at 401 SE 15th Ave., which is one block south of East Las Olas Blvd.
However, an operator at First Presbyterian tells New Times that they know of no such robberies, and had not reported anything to the police. The general manager at Rocco's Tacos refused to comment on the incidents.
According to Las Olas Village, the perpetrators are young men, armed with guns, who demand their victims' valuables. In at least one of the incidents, the criminals demanded the victim drive them to an ATM.
When New Times contacted the Fort Lauderdale Police to request information on armed robberies in the area and find out whether police patrols were being increased, Public Information Officer Det. DeAnna Greenlaw was elusive in her response, saying that the Fort Lauderdale PD does not share their operational tactics with the public, or the media. "Our tactics would be publicized and could jeopardize our efforts," Greenlaw added in her email response.
Greenlaw did go on to say that they encourage the public to report any crime as soon as they observe it.
"Anytime a specific neighborhood notices an increase in part one crimes our commanding officers are notified, meetings to discuss these trends are held and measures are put into place to address the activity," she added.
Greenlaw then directed us to a crime tracking website called RAIDS online.
A cursory examination of the area in question does show a string of armed robberies going as far back as November 20 and as recent as December 9. According to the RAIDS site, there have been at least five armed robberies reported in the area surrounding Rocco's Tacos, most of them happening around the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:40 a.m.
Police reports would take several days to obtain.
Here's what the Las Olas Village announcement says:
Nobody likes to share bad news during the Holidays, when we are all trying to share HOLIDAY CHEER!
But we have a dangerous pattern of robberies going on, and they are not abating, and so we are sharing this info to bring awareness and hopefully, some POLICE PRESENCE on foot in the Las Olas Village district. Even with arrests, there are ongoing armed robberies and one included a carjacking. There are at least 3 known occurrences in the past two months. Two took place in the parking lots behind Rocco's Tacos and Fork & Balls, and the most recent one happened to a valet at his car in the lots at First Presbyterian. The armed robbers are young men using guns and demanding valuables. In one case, they forced the victim to drive to an ATM and get more cash. Please be vigilant and more cautious than usual. This is obviously a problem we cannot solve on our own, and hope for more police presence in our area.