A Special Investigation into the Weird Chalk Marks on This One Dude's Apartment Door

spanishburglarmarkings.jpg
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This is a weird one. The story comes to us via Reddit (of course), where a resident of an apartment complex near State and Thomas streets in Uptown writes that he's distressed by the appearance of a strange chalk marking on his door.

"I noticed today that my door had a small chalk-like marking, like a vertical line just on the top part of the frame," he writes. "My neighbor had a similar one. Now, I'm not local (Spanish, if you must know) and burglars are known to leave certain marks on the door to let other burglars know what's inside (they got one for 'old people,' other for "nothing to steal here", another one for 'beware of alarms,' etc). They get the information by pretending to be door-to-door salesmen."

To prove his point, he linked to an image of some of the markings the thieves are known to make. There's one that advises other burglars to use a lever, one that lets them know that the house is "charitable," and, best of all, "Solo viven mujeres." (Only women live here.) Apparently Spanish burglars are prone to teamwork, hyper-organized and kind of sexist.

So, um, have highly motivated, orthographically-inclined European thieves made their way to Uptown? Or is there a more prosaic explanation? A second Redditor figured out that he likely lives in the same complex as the original poster, the lengthily-named, luxury-promising Manchester State Thomas.

"I'm pretty sure it's Jehovah's Witnesses," he wrote. Someone else in the thread seemed certain that Witnesses leave simple marks on doors they've already knocked on.

Although Reddit crowd-sourced information is usually really accurate, it seemed best to just ask the Witnesses about that one. No one picked up the phone at the Kingdom Hall on West Mockingbird Lane, the closest JW congregation to Uptown. But an elder named Leo, at the Kingdom Hall on Sweetbriar Drive, was baffled.

"They're seeing what?" he asked. I re-explained. "No, we don't do that," he said. He'd never heard of it. "The only thing we do is knock on the door. If someone is there, we can preach to them. If nobody's home, we just go to another place. We really don't do that."

The Dallas Police were similarly confused. "I've never heard of that," a sergeant told me. He meant both Reddit in general and chalk-marking specifically. He added very firmly that he wasn't making an "official statement" and suggested checking with the Gang Unit.

A spokesperson with the Manchester State Thomas wrote: "We have not heard anything about an issue like this from any of our resident [sic] nor does this blogger define himself as a resident of Manchester State Thomas. There are many privately owned townhomes in this area." (That's technically correct. Reddeker only said that he lives an apartment complex "near Thomas and State." That could be anywhere, right?)

Finally, I checked in with Redekker, to see if he'd solved the mystery independently while I was busy confusing Jehovah's Witnesses.

"I reported it to my building management and they checked both with the maintenance/cleaning staff and the construction workers," he wrote back. "But neither party acknowledged voluntarily making those marks, so the mystery remains. My best guess is that it was just probably dust (settled in a very peculiar way, I wish I'd taken pictures) and me just being paranoid, but I certainly feel better knowing that the door marking is not something that burglars do around these parts."

Well, we didn't say that. Maybe it's the new, hip, Euro-imported burglar trend? Witchcraft, perhaps? Feel free to speculate wildly.

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23 comments
RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I've got to thank you for this one, Anna.  Probably the most interesting article I've read anywhere in some time.  Led me to hours of google searching on codes and symbology.  Great stuff.

bryanr01
bryanr01

Pretty sure it was Gandalf, looking for a burglar to help deal with a dragon.

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

It's those ancient egyptians next door.  Here's the translation: "Mummy came to visit.  Where's the treasure? TTYL".

JohnWileyPrice
JohnWileyPrice

As long as Sandra Fluke gets her free birth control pills what difference does it make?

keeponkeepinitdown
keeponkeepinitdown

If only reporters in this town could actually make as much effort into actual worthwhile journalism.

observist
observist topcommenter

They're shadowmarks made by the Riften Thieves' Guild.  You can look up the meanings in Devin Mallory's book.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

at least they werent your normal dick drawings or racial slurs

downtownworker
downtownworker

Who doesn't have a camera on their phone these days? I think the guy watched The Blair Witch Project recently, smoked his pipe, has been awake for days and now thinks there are marks on his door.

JustSaying
JustSaying

So the lesson here is that you can put a Hank III sticker on your door and it will tell spanish speaking burglars that there is "nothing here". It will tell everyone else where that weed smell and loud music is coming from.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

This was covered on an episode of Mad Men. It was hobos.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@RTGolden1 Thanks! Really interesting, right? I enjoyed doing this one a lot. If there's any possible way to follow up -- not likely, but you never know -- I definitely will. 

observist
observist topcommenter

@Anna_Merlan @observist  I'm 90 percent sure you're 100 percent sure that's a  video game joke, but don't want to completely admit you know exactly what I'm talking about.  ;-)

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

@observist @Anna_Merlan I'm 100% sure that Observist's comment was awesome.  And worthy of inclusion in the next nerdy video game.

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