Council Member's Carjacking Email Debunked

UPDATE 17-December: Council Member Kadane Issues Retraction and Clarification

Last Friday, in what is being called "a reminder to [...] neighbors to be careful," Dallas City Council Member Sheffie Kadane sent this email to many of his District 9 constituents titled: Please review 'Channel 5 news just had a segment on about these 4 instances at North Park Mall'.

Since then, the email has enjoyed rapid circulation throughout the city.

The problem is: there appears to be no truth to the warning.

Kadane apparently fell victim to this 4-year old internet hoax. And even though it appears to inappropriately target NorthPark Mall, officials in Kadane's office refuse to correct it.

According to the hoax, debunked by Snopes.com, carjackers tape paper to the back window of potential victims. Supposedly the victim notices paper taped to the window when backing out, stops and exits the vehicle, and the carjacker gets in.

"Untrue," said a Dallas Police media relations spokesman we talked to this morning. "We asked our detectives if they had heard of such a thing [and their response was] 'it isn't happening'."

"Most of our carjackers are sticking with the gun-in-the-face approach."

The Dallas Police Department says there have been no reports of violent crime, or attempted violent crime, since last May's attempted carjacking of a woman in the mall's parking lot.

In that incident, a Waxahachie man, Demond Stuard, was found guilty. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Another man is awaiting trial in the case.

Kadane's email prompted Dallas Police officials to issue the following clarification today:

There has been an email, specifically naming North Park Mall, being forwarded regarding a specific type of carjacking where flyers are being placed on rear windshields of automobiles in parking lots. When drivers step out to remove the flyer, carjackers make their move and take the vehicle.

Our office contacted North Park Security who stated they are aware of the rumor but have not had any incidents there. Furthermore, our records indicate there were no offenses of this type in or around the mall this year. This is not a crime trend, however, police always advise the public to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity immediately.

Thanks,

Andy
Andy Harvey
Lieutenant of Police
Police Media Relations

The letter's accuracy was initially questioned by Aren Cambre, a neighborhood leader and activist in East Dallas. Cambre wrote Kadane and asked that the record be set straight.

Still, Kadane's office refuses to issue a retraction or an apology.

Kadane staffer Caroline Nosworthy says she "truly believe[s] a re-traction would cause more confusion." She insists that she "verified the information with an off-duty officer" before forwarding the email.

Nosworthy said "it appears that there were no actual offenses, just the paper on the back window."

Nosworthy has declined to name of the off-duty officer.

As to the claim that Channel 5 is reporting this activity to be happening at North Park Mall, a search of the Channel 5 website produced nothing.


UPDATE 17-Dec-08

Council member Sheffie Kadane just sent the following email clarifying the issue:

Dear Constituent:

I want to address an email that went out from my Council Office on Friday, December 12, which seems to have gotten a lot of attention.

It appears I’ve become the victim of an Internet hoax. The hoaxster laid out a realistic-sounding plot that carjackers were allegedly using at NorthPark Mall. And in my zeal to make sure my constituents remained safe, we quickly emailed this information around the district.

But now I’m told by police that this was a hoax that apparently has been around for years. Police say they know of no such incidents in or around NorthPark Mall this year, and while people should always be alert and aware, this is not a crime trend.

Well, I must say that I’m sorry we didn’t catch this sooner. And certainly want everyone to know we think the police and the security out at NorthPark Mall are doing a great job keeping everyone safe during the holidays.

And I also hope everyone will join me out at NorthPark Mall this weekend, because I still have quite a bit of shopping to do before Christmas!

Have a safe and blessed holiday season.

Sheffie Kadane

Councilmember, District 9