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June 28, 2006

High-heeled Highwayman.jpg

We've been hearing a lot of about fraud regarding claims for emergency aid after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Rumor (and fact in some cases) has it that people have been claiming non-existent dead dependents and using disaster relief debit cards to pay for lap dances, tropical vacations, champagne and diamond jewelry. Most fraudsters are scattered far from New Orleans itself but in that city, there's a far more unusual crime spree occurring.

When I first read the story, I thought it was some sort of homophobic joke or uptight retailers not wanting to deal with alternative clientele. Nevertheless, according to staff writer Richard A. Webster of New Orleans City Business - Up to the Minute News, what sounds made up is indeed an actual problem plaguing a shopping area in the Big Easy called the Lower Garden District since May.

Believe it or not, a marauding band of African American transvestites has been descending on local business in groups of three or four. One distracts the shop owners while the others quickly scoop up as much merchandise as they can carry and dash out the door. These cross-dressing bandits often make off with a couple grand worth of goods in a single grab.

Robyn Lewis, owner of Dark Charm fashion and accessories for women that the understaffed New Orleans Police Department has bigger problems than to "catch a drag queen running down the street with an armful of clothing."

She and the storeowners have created a system whereby if one of them sees the transvestite thieves coming, they call all the other folks on the block to warn them. The phone roster as been named the "Drag Queen Alert List" and has stars beside the names of those shopkeepers that own guns.

Keep that last part in mind. In the Lower Garden District if you happen to be a six-foot tall black man in a dress and bad wig as matches the description of the accused shoplifters, you might not be the only one carrying a concealed weapon. That local shop owner might not just be happy to see you.

Posted by Will Peters at June 28, 2006 12:09 PM

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Nice pic!

Posted by: Andrew at June 28, 2006 10:34 PM

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