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Melissa Anderson stands in the parking garage where not one but two Corvettes belonging to her were stolen this year. All together, she learned that 11 expensive cars were stolen since January from the garage at 1400 Hi Line Drive in the AMLI Design District in Dallas.

Sometimes, whether you like it or not, events beyond your control force you to become a citizen watchdog. You have to ask questions, compile records and pester authorities to pay attention to your problem. That’s what Melissa Anderson is doing.

Earlier this year, Anderson’s $90,000 red Corvette was stolen from her Dallas apartment building’s inside garage. Usually, The Watchdog wouldn’t report on a car theft — even if, as the case is here, it’s the prettiest thing on four wheels you ever did see.

The reason I’m telling you about Anderson’s car theft is that three months after that theft, a second red Corvette she bought to replace the first one was stolen from the same garage.

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This 2018 Corvette Z06 was the second red Corvette belonging to a Dallas woman that was stolen this year from her building’s parking garage.

When she began to dig around, she learned that nine other high-end cars were stolen from the same garage this year.

Anderson, a digital strategy expert, lives in one of Dallas’ high-profile buildings, 1400 Hi Line Drive, a snazzy 23-story building in the AMLI Design District near Stemmons Freeway.

Anderson has compiled police reports about these thefts and emails to and from AMLI, the owner of her building and one of the largest apartment companies in America.

Her findings

She pleaded with police to launch an investigation. She also requested and received police reports of all recent crimes in the building.

She catalogued the 11 car thefts this year: three Cadillac Escalades; four Corvettes (including her two); a Chevy Silverado; a Chevy Tahoe; one Jeep Cherokee; and one vehicle not identified in the reports.

After her first theft on Feb. 17, she studied placement of the closed circuit cameras in the fifth-floor garage. She talked to security guards who patrol the garage and also the concierge running the desk in the building’s lobby.

She pestered building management, contacted the Dallas police and did what she could to protect the second Corvette. She parked in a quiet corner of the garage, under full view of a camera. She bought a thick car cover that would be tough to cut, secured it with braided wire and locked it with not one but two Master locks.

None of that helped. Around 2:30 a.m. on May 15, the second car was stolen, too. On the closed-circuit TV video, shown to her by a Dallas police detective, one of the car thieves wears a surgical mask as he covers the camera lens with duct tape, she said.

Later, when she scoured the parking lot for evidence, she found a key on the ground that she believes opens Master locks.

The second Corvette contained a hidden tracking device she bought for $50. For a half-hour she was able to track the car as thieves drove on major highways in the middle of the night. Dallas police, following her tips, used a police helicopter to spot the car. They tracked it until they had to stop and fill the chopper’s gas tank, she said.

I contacted Dallas police, but as of this writing, I’ve not heard back. DPD’s auto theft unit is investigating.

I contacted AMLI, whose spokeswoman, Traci A. Hall, emailed The Watchdog about Anderson, saying the tenant “alleges she had two separate vehicles” stolen.

She called thefts of the two Corvettes belonging to the same owner “highly peculiar.” She said notices were sent to residents after both incidents. AMLI, she added, is working with police and the victim’s insurance company.

The thefts not only hurt tenants but also a shopper who parked in the garage to visit a hair salon in the building. She lost her car, too.

Even building staff is affected. Police reports show that a car belonging to AMLI’s onsite property manager, Stephanie Hadley, was broken into in March. Asked about Anderson’s watchdogging, Hadley told me, “We have no comment at this time. It’s an open investigation.”

I contacted the security company hired a month ago to patrol the garage. Joe Castaldo, co-owner of Code 3 Security, told me that he reviewed events and his guard did nothing wrong.

Anderson says the surveillance video that police showed her shows a Code 3 Security guard removing the duct tape over the lens. The guard can see two men hovering by the Corvette in the minutes before it was stolen.

Stratton Security, which staffs the concierge station in the lobby and monitors surveillance cameras in the building, did not return my call.

She warned them

Anderson feared her replacement Corvette would get stolen. She called it correctly.

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This photo and note is in Melissa Anderson's research documenting a car theft ring. She shows how she covered her car and tucked it in a corner of her garage watched by a camera. It didn't help. The Corvette was stolen.

“I’ve never been so terrified about my security,” she wrote in a note to building management. “Why aren’t you informing residents to look out for suspicious activity? … Your inaction has created a building that is targeted by criminals. All of us living here are sitting ducks until we’re violated because of your dismissive behavior.”

In a reply, management offered to let her out of her lease early.

Anderson said she kept an eye on the garage. Once, she saw a tow truck enter without a license plate. She recorded the truck on her phone. Another time she approached a woman idling near the gate waiting to get in. The driver asked Anderson to open the gate for her.

“You don’t live here, do you?” Anderson asked.

When the woman didn’t answer, Anderson asked, “Are you here to steal cars?” The woman drove off.

Her residence, Anderson said, is “a beautiful building with an extremely dark side of crime.” She plans to move to a residence with a secure private garage.

When I asked the citizen watchdog why she was attracted to Corvettes, she said, “It’s the best bang for the buck. It’s a beast to drive. It’s exhilarating, and it’s fun.”

She wants fun again.

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