Residents and businesses in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas are actively outing potential neighborhood problems and potential criminal suspects on social media, hoping the attention will alert police, stop the activity, and help protect their neighborhood's image.
"Well this is our home," said artist and business owner Preston Pannek. "I know it doesn't look like a neighborhood. I know we don't have front yards. But this is where we live. And we want to protect that."
One of their most active social media campaigns to encourage that protection has to do with the recent activity of an apparent serial flasher.
"Unbuttoning his pants and watching the females go by and doing his thing," said Pannek.
Several incidents have been reported to Dallas police. Multiple Deep Ellum residents have taken pictures of the alleged culprit and his vehicle, blogged very specific detective work about who they believe the person is, and reported their findings to police.
"He is someone that I hope gets some help very soon,” said Deep Ellum artist and resident Raine Devries. “Because he's making a lot of people very uncomfortable.”
"We want him at least picked up and questioned to start with to see what's going on," said Pannek.
WFAA isn't naming the man, or showing the images Deep Ellum residents have taken, because the man in the photographs hasn't been arrested and hasn't been charged with a crime. Dallas police say they are investigating and are aware of the issue.
But Deep Ellum neighbors want the alleged serial flasher and other potential criminals to know it's not just the police who are watching.
"The neighbors and the business owners, we've all come together,” said Pannek, who’s has also photographed suspected car prowlers and other suspicious people. “And we're out there looking now. Our eyes are open. We've got cameras out.
“We're not just stopping and taking pictures anymore. We're gonna stop the guys.”
"Something about Deep Ellum really fosters community and togetherness and looking out for one another," said Devries.
It’s something they will continue to do, hoping their work on social media protests Deep Ellum and makes the problems go somewhere else.
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