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| Crime |

Cheerleaders in Town For Big Event at Convention Center Leave Dallas Dispirited

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If you were downtown over the weekend, you couldn't miss it: Dallas was overrun with cheerleaders in town for the National Cheerleaders Association's All-Star National Championship at the Dallas Convention Center. It's an annual affair a team from suburban Chicago always attends -- but they ain't coming back next year, not after eight of their bags were stolen during a performance at the DCC. Says this story, the coach, the high-school cheerleaders and their folks are unhappy with both event organizers and the Dallas police:

They said event organizers should have had security watching their bags, which were placed behind the stage. And they didn't like how police responded. Siegal said some of the cheerleaders used a computer to trace a cell phone in one of the bags using GPS. Siegal said police refused to go to the area because it was dangerous. Dallas police didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

A part of town too "dangerous" to go retrieve eight bags that, according to the police report, were filled with thousands in electronics, jewelery, money and diabetes medication, not to mention birth certificates and IDs? Musta been ... Preston Hollow? I e-mailed the piece to DPD spokesman Kevin Janse for comment, and he offers quite a different version of this story via e-mail:

I spoke to a reporter from the Daily Herald yesterday for about 20 minutes trying to reassure him that there is no area in Dallas that is "too dangerous" and that we did, in fact, send officers to the area where the phone was believed to be. However, the GPS system had a 150-yard radius, which means the phone could have been in any car or anywhere.

The statement that we, the police department, did not return their phone call makes me feel as though I wasted those 20 minutes. I guess my answers were not what he wanted to hear.

Though maybe this explains why Dallas Convention Center bossman Frank Poe suddenly up and quit yesterday. Because danged if anyone else is offering a better explanation.

Update: As one commenter pointed out, the police report linked to above actually comes out of California, not Illinois. (Reason for the confusion: The city listed is Elk Grove, which is also a suburb of Chicago from which some of the Illinois cheerleaders came.) I asked Janse if there were multiple complaints filed concerning thefts during the NCA event at the convention center last weekend. He responds: "Yes, apparently 7 or 8 girls got their bags stolen all at once."

Update at 5:18 p.m.: The Daily Herald has just posted a follow-up piece in which reporter Ashok Selvam finally gets his own comment from Janse, who remains unhappy with cheerleading coach Jeff Siegel's comment about DPD refusing to go to a "dangerous" part of town:

"That's a flat-out lie; an officer isn't going to say that," Janse said. The assertion that officers didn't want to enter a dangerous area is "almost comical" as "police officers get paid to do dangerous things," he added. Siegal couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

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