Don't pick up hitchhiking grandmas and other Tucson crime prevention tips

The older Tucson dame waving down traffic Sunday afternoon on Glenn Street near First Avenue may have looked innocent enough.

You never know where folks have been/Ryn Gargulinski

The white-haired lady was somewhat stooped, frail and politely hiding her cigarette behind her back as she tried to flag down a ride.

But who wants to take a chance on picking up a hitchhiking grandma who might double as an ax murderer?

Lots of crimes are simply those of opportunity, with thieves, muggers – or even ax murderers – striking because they can.

“Over the past year, a large number of our property crimes occur at the hands of opportunists, taking advantage of unlocked doors, unsecured valuables, and the inattention of their victims,” says a news release from the Tucson Police Department.

TPD statistics from 2009 remind us of the popularity of some of these crimes:

Residential robbery, larceny and burglaries: 3,369 = 9.2 per day
Larceny from motor vehicles: 2,677 = 7.3 per day
Motor vehicle theft: 3,556 = 10 per day

Top five vehicle theft locations from January to June 2010 as per the TPD website :

Walmart, 1650 W. Valencia Rd., with 12
Northridge Apartments, 1901 N. Wilmot Rd., with 10
Rio Seco Community, 1440 W. Irvington Rd., with 9
El Pueblo Center, 101 W. Irvington Rd., with 9
Rancho Mirage, 750 E. Irvington Rd., with 8

With these fine stats in mind, TPD offered a host of tips, which we supplemented with addition input:

You can never be too careful/Ryn Gargulinski

Lock doors and windows. This goes for homes, cars, outdoor sheds, backyard gates – heck, even lock the fuse box if you can.

Keep shrubbery trimmed low. This way you can see any vagabonds lurking, even if trimming ruins your shade pattern and disturbs nesting birds.

Don’t leave valuables visible inside your car. Your new pair of shoes on the passenger seat is just begging to be stolen. The same goes for your cell phone, CD collection or host of movies you are about to return to the neighborhood Blockbuster. Don’t forget dogs get stolen, too.

Don’t leave vehicle keys in the ignition. This tip goes into the “duh” category, the same category with safety tips like “Don’t lie down on the tracks in front of an oncoming train.” Yet people still do it. Sometimes they even leave their vehicles unattended with the engine running.

Don’t underestimate the tenacity – or pliability – of a thief. “A suspect can enter your vehicle or home through any size window,” the release points out. He or she can also probably slither through that doggie door.

Make sure outside storage areas are locked. Keep all of your possessions in a safe and secure place. If an item is stored outside, please make sure the storage area is secure. Can’t be too safe when it comes to wheel barrows and garden rakes.

Never underestimate the greediness of a thief. Someone stole a small, metal peace sign hung on my front yard tree branch meant to stop passer-bys from hitting their heads. The thing was worth about 50 cents, but it’s the principal of it all.

Spend time with neighbors out in the community. Form a neighborhood association or Neighborhood Watch.

Report all suspicious people, vehicles and activity to 911.

Don’t call 911 to have someone come change the channel on your TV, do a beer run or because a fast food restaurant gave you a hamburger without pickles or special sauce.

Don’t pick up hitchhiking grandmas, especially those in the area of First Avenue and Glenn.


What do you think?

Have you ever unwittingly invited crime? What happened?

Do you leave your bags unattended on the street and then get mad when someone runs off with them?

What’s the worst thing ever stolen from you?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
This entry was posted in Crime, danger, death, gross stuff, life, Police/fire/law, Stupidity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Don't pick up hitchhiking grandmas and other Tucson crime prevention tips

  1. Bonnie Lewis says:

    a new doormat! I had just bought a new one on a Saturday. When I got back from my Sunday morning hike it was GONE. Just ripped off. Stolen. Disappeared.

    • Rynski says:

      awww, man, that’s low.
      sorry to hear it, bonnie lewis.
      maybe it’s the same person who ripped off my little front yard peace sign, perhaps needed your new doormat to go with it?
      boo hiss!

  2. Brooke says:

    There is no Walmart @ 1901 N. Wilmot Rd….

    • Rynski says:

      thanks, brooke –
      the 1901 N. Wilmot Rd address does, in fact, match with Northridge Apartments, not Walmart –
      upon review, it appears the entire TPD auto theft list from Jan to June 2010 was skewed, with the addresses not matching the locations. List I used was at:
      I amended the post (above) by keeping Park Place Mall as the No. 1 location, adding the correct address of the mall, and matching the other locations with correct addresses.
      also send a verification request to TPD to make sure Park Place Mall is at the top of the list, those are the top five locations and double checking the number of cars stolen at each location.
      thanks again for pointing that out.

  3. jason says:

    I flipped when i saw this .. I was flagged down yesterday by this grandmother looking lady on glenn, and first ave. She seemed so sad and asked for money .. I gave her all i had then after driving away reflected on how lucky I am not to be in her shoes. I didnt even make the correlation when i noticed the axe handle sticking out from her blouse.

    • Rynski says:

      hahhaha! jason! you LOVELY citizen!
      i am so glad you were more trusting and were able to help her…
      – OK, i’ll admit i’m a bit jaded –
      thanks for the very good laugh – and soooo glad you lived to tell about it!

  4. fraser007 says:

    Interesting locations for all of this crime? Sooooo, based on these locations what demographic group of our wonderful citizenry do you think does these crimes. Come on say it. Oh, would that be racist?
    If you state these crime numbers you have to ask who the police arrests for these crimes.

    • Rynski says:

      all i’ll say is i’m none too fond of irvington…and don’t plan on parking anywhere near it! – the rest of the list had yet another irvington location…
      thanks for input…and honesty.

  5. sethers says:

    I had an autographed Barry Larkin rookie card that was stolen out of my parents’ car when I was 13. I am still traumatized.

    • Rynski says:

      aww, shucks. that stinks, sethers.
      i would help you get over your trauma if i could, but the only autographs i ever had were from jesse barfield on the back of a tiger stadium napkin and ron jeremy on a glossy photo – and i’m not sure what happened to either one.
      p.s. the ron jeremy was an autographed photo sent as a joke from one of my friends.

  6. radmax says:

    Ax wielding old ladies Rynski?
    Poor thing was probably trying to get a ride to Michigan to visit her folks… 😉 or…
    perhaps she’s the scofflaw that left Paul Bunyan holding the flag…

    • Rynski says:

      all i know is you can never be too careful….and i’d much rather be paranoid then dead…oh!
      and if she WERE heading to michigan, how come she was on the side of road with traffic heading WEST – huh? see?! got you fooled with your guard down already….hahahahahahahhahaha….there goes your throat….
      p.s. i was wondering why paul has been clutching a flag instead of his usual ax…

      • radmax says:

        Good questions and concerns…while we are speculating, perhaps axes Annie had to catch a ride to Sky Harbor, as any traveler knows that TIA is a lousy embarkation point, too many layovers…
        PS- I’m certainly glad she wasn’t trying to find Park Place on west Valencia. 🙂

      • Rynski says:

        hahahah! i hope police don’t try to find park place on west valencia, either!
        …and you  may be correct in your hypothesis of grandma hitchhiker heading to phoenix airport – the perfect place for her quick get-away following the bloody ax murder – hahahahahha.

  7. azmouse says:

    Just got back in town and the first thing on my to-do list was to check your blog, Ryn.

    I’m afraid crime is everywhere. While in Flagstaff for about four days…my usual Celtic Festival trip, I was walking around (when I got there on Friday around noon, it was rainy and 65 degrees…wonderful!!) I saw what appeared to be a homeless gentleman, trying to climb through a hotel room window from a little alley-type way.
    I excused myself and asked him what he was doing. He diverted me by asking me some biblical question, which I, not being religious, knew absolutely nothing about.
    He told me his name was Butthead, while I called the police to let them know he was trying to break into a hotel room. Actually, I stood there and talked to him till the police came to deal with the situation.

    I ran into him the next day and he thought I was a lady named Linda who had given him a tent. I assured him I wasn’t her. He could have sworn I was, but he explained he had taken acid for so many years that he MIGHT be wrong. Anyway, he was grateful for the tent because he said he used it to wrap up like a burrito to keep warm.
    I let him walk with me to a nearby convenience store and I purchased us both a cup of coffee while I talked to him about NOT making wrong choices that affect others, although he was free to make wrong choices that affect only himself.

    Doubt that it helped, but I hope he felt like I treated him with dignity and respect.
    (Quick note, seems the police are familiar with Butthead. Basically he’s harmless but will make bad choices when he’s scavenged money for booze.)

    • Rynski says:

      welcome backfrom celtic fest, azmouse! and thanks for putting checking my blog on top of your to-do list. you’re too cool!
      as for butthead – how cool you were able to help him, even if he may have thought you gave him a burrito-wrap-tent instead of coffee, as well as treat him with dignity and respect.
      kudos to you, azmouse! kudos, too, for calling cops when he was trying to slither in motel window.
      maybe he was trying to steal the bible from the nightstand?

      • azmouse says:

        I missed ya!
        Hey, maybe he was trying to steal a hotel bible…his bible knowledge was distracting!

        He was cool except for the breaking and entering thing…..

  8. Oakland says:

    Crime has always been a part of life. It really just goes to show of how little respect we have for one another. Always trying to find the easy way out. The punishment isn’t anything to be to worried about, and that’s even if you get caught. Most of these crimes go unsolved, and there not to much of a high priority.

    • Rynski says:

      good points, oakland – very sad but very true.
      it seems impossible to even open an investigation on every single property crime out there.
      thanks for comment.

  9. Rynski says:

    got word from TPD that park place mall is not on list of top spots for car thefts jan to june 2010. i updated list accordingly with correct addresses and info. TPD website was also updated to reflect correct info.
    park place mall IS, however, at the top of the list for vehicles stolen in 2009, with 44, followed by tucson mall with 22 and that walmart on valencia with 14.

  10. flylowguy says:

    Hitchhiking malevolent grannies?
    They might listen to the advice of law enforcement too.  There are people out there waiting to prey on those grannies,  and they are badder than any granny could hope to be.
    Don’t ask me what bad guys think they might get from a granny.  Maybe some wadded up tissues and a half empty tube of Ben Gay?

    • Rynski says:

      excellent point, flylowguy.
      she did look pretty frail, despite the threat of her hidden ax.
      thanks for warning to all hitchhiking grandmas out there – or all hitchhiking anyones, for that matter.
      …those wadded up tissues are pretty dear these days – hahahhaha

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