Homeowner explains sign, calling out drug dealers on Hyder Street
For about a week, letters scrawled in spray paint on an old scrap door have been catching eyes and turning heads at Hyder Street and 3rd Avenue.
The sign reads, "APD: Drugs sold on Hyder Street ALL THE TIME!"
"They do it right in front of me," said homeowner Rob Cupples. "They're not hiding it. They're not scared."
He explains, he put the sign up, as well as other large signs that read, "Keep off my driveway," after he became fed up with daily drug deals, vandals, and people loitering and littering.
"Car rolls up, they come runnin' over, lots of transactions at the window, car rolls away, people run off -- I got so tired of seeing this multiple times a day, it was like the ice cream truck rolled up and the little kids came runnin' over," said Cupples.
He says his grandfather built the home on the corner in 1951. In the '90s, after he passed away, Cupples says his grandmother had to move out because the area wasn't safe. After a tenant moved out, the home became vacant for a decade, to be broken into by members of Anchorage's transient population.
Today, the inside of the home has extensive damage from vandals and squatters, but Cupples says his presence at the property and daily perimeter checks, are a message for trespassers: "Someone cares about this property again, and I intend to take it back. It's not theirs anymore. It doesn't belong to the streets. It belongs to my family and it has for 70 years."
Cupples first memories of the home include his grandmother's garden and Thanksgiving meals with family, but his most recent memories are of inebriated people sleeping in the back ard and people having sex on the front porch.
"Right out in plain sight!" Cupples exclaimed. "Pants down, right there on that concrete porch, just a couple days ago."
He wants to be clear, his sign is not intended to be a jab at Anchorage Police. He says he appreciates the job APD is doing and his message is simply his way of taking action.
"I decided to do something to call attention. If I can call attention to the illegal activities that are taking place in front of our families former home, perhaps I could create an environment no longer conducive to their business, and they'll take it somewhere else," Cupples explained.
Someone has already taken issue with his sign, using a drive shaft to hit it several times the day after he put it up.
"When I saw that, I knew that it was effective. It was working, it was getting attention. The fact that it angered a drug user to the point where they found a drive shaft over there and started beating holes in my sign, I thought, I was on to something. It works."
He said the blatantly visible drug deals seem to be happening less, but the activity hasn't stopped altogether. After shooting video for roughly an hour Monday, a KTVA crew witnessed an apparent drug deal right in front of the crew's camera.
"People just walk up, shake your hand -- boom. There's a drug deal," said Krystal Taddicken, who lives at the Brother Francis Shelter.
She says she doesn't think Cupples' sign will do anything to solve the problem, but that she's observed the same behaviors he described.
"It's not solving the problem, it's only pushing the problem somewhere else," he admitted, "But I, as a homeowner, that's all I can do."
He says his sign will stay up for as long as he feels it needs to and if it's destroyed, he'll build a bigger one.
APD spokesperson Renee Oistad said in an email Monday, "Mayor Berkowitz discussed APD’s plan to combat drugs earlier this summer. The statements he made then are still correct. If someone wants to report drug activity, we ask that they do so via Crime Stoppers. In order for us to follow up on a tip, we need specific verifiable information. Names, locations, the drugs being dealt, and how they are being dealt are all details that are helpful to us. Any information regarding the people involved is also useful, such as where they live, work, what they drive, etc."
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