True Crime: The 411 on This Month’s 911

The Victim: Erik Tosten
The Crime: Theft
Date: Monday, April 13
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: 2500 block of Burlington

First a shooting, now a theft.

Erik Tosten was working on his gutters in the area behind his backyard, which he calls his “second backyard”.
“It’s where I have my garden because it gets the most sun,” Tosten says of the area.
The area is hidden from the street, and he often leaves his gardening tools there to use later. He finished his work, but forgot his ladder. The ladder was visible from the street, and thieves spotted it.
“My neighbor called me and said someone was in my garden stealing my ladders,” he says. “I just forgot the ladder was back there for two days.”
The thieves were described as a teenage boy and girl. They also stole his gardening tools. The loss wasn’t great, Tosten says, but “still pricy.” This was not the first crime at his home. In four years, he has had a car broken into and stereo stolen, and a friend’s car also was burglarized.
But one crime really sticks in his mind. Tosten, an art professor at the University of Texas-Arlington, was out of town a year ago, and a friend came to mow his lawn around 10 a.m.
“He said he was mowing, and two kids rolled up and shot him in the arm,” Tosten says.
His friend got in his car and chased after the assailants. As he approached their vehicle, his car collided with another car, and the shooters got away.
“He’s OK now, but he’s still got a bullet wound in his arm,” Tosten says.
Three weeks later, someone was stabbed at a nearby home.
“I still love the neighborhood, and I want to stay there,” he says. “I love Oak Cliff.”
Lt. Bill Humphrey of the Dallas police’s property crimes unit says gardening tools are easy and popular targets.
“Generally all tools should be stored and secured in a garage or backyard shed,” he says. “Thieves prefer items they can get rid of quickly, and because gardening has become increasingly popular, they are attracted to gardening tools because they’re easy to sell.”

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  • Caren Barnes

    My heart goes out to Erik-it may be a ladder–but he was violated–it was his property. I grew up in Oak Cliff. Our house was in Glen Oaks and my grandparent’s house was on 5th and Elsbeth. My grandparents purchased that house in the 1920s after their house on 8th and Zangs was sold to expand Zangs from a 2-lane road.

    To make a long story short, we owned both of those houses until 2001, when deaths caused us to have to sell them due to the death of our remaining family. The Glen Oaks house never had anything missing, due to my Daddy’s due diligence and alarm system. My grandparents house, where my aunt lived, was robbed so many times I’ve lost count. Irreplaceable items–my Grandmother’s silver flatware and wedding rings (which I had restored)–I could go on and on. Once, the heartless thieves assualted my Aunt’s dog and he never recovered from the injuries.

    The hurt that does with this loss never has left me. I ache with hurt when I think that my family so loving kept family treasures to hand down and they were stolen by thugs who could never appreciate sentiment or love–let alone hard work and sacrifice that bought them in the first place.

    I dearly love the Oak Cliff I grew up in. I graduated from Kimball–after attending Mark Twain, TW Brown and WH Atwell. I have kept up with so many people I grew up with and they share my love for the Oak Cliff where we grew up. I pray that it can return to some version of it’s glory days–and it will if this crime can be stopped. However, the crime element must be stopped. I don’t know the answers–but pray someone can at least get it to a point that these people will suffer consequences if caught. The Dallas Police must do better and neighborhood watch groups are invaluable. God Bless Oak Cliff!
    Caren Crow Barnes
    The Lone Star Ranch
    Denton, Nebraska