Local News

Nearby residents concerned by crime on American Tobacco Trail

Posted August 9, 2012

— Ten crimes have been reported on the American Tobacco Trial so far this year, compared with 13 for all of 2011, prompting concern among Durham residents and people who like to walk, jog or bike on the 22-mile trail.

The crimes include assaults, robberies and a flasher who exposed himself to several people last fall.

"It's very disconcerting to hear that when someone goes out for a run that they get hit in the back of the head," said Mindy Solie, a resident in the Forest Hills neighborhood.

Some of Solie's neighbors have stopped using the trail, and others have written to the Durham City Council to express their concerns about crime on the trail. Solie said she has worked with police for several years on crime issues, and officers are taking the issue seriously.

"This is a pride and joy of the whole city. Our American Tobacco Trail is a wonderful place for families, for diversity, for bikers, walkers of all ages," she said.

Durham police said they have increased patrols on the trail in recent months, including using some plainclothes officers. They declined to provide specific details of enforcement efforts so they wouldn't tip off criminals.

Nearby residents are finalizing plans on a "Take Back the Trail" day to send a message that they won't stand for crime on the trail.

American Tobacco Trail sign Durham police increase presence on American Tobacco Trail

"I want our neighbors to get back out there," Solie said. "I want people to keep using the trail because, otherwise, they win. The bad guy wins, and the good guy needs to win here."

Marian Staer said she rides her bicycle on the American Tobacco Trail at least three times a week. She said there are certain sections she will no longer visit because suspicious people hang out there, but she is determined not to be scared away.

"I'm not a scared person, so yes, I'll still use it," Staer said.

Police recommend that people who use the trail not walk alone at night and carry a cellphone to call 911 if they see anything suspicious or feel uncomfortable.

125 Comments

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  • lilymae Aug 16, 3:02 p.m.

    I've used this trail many, many times, even training long hours for marathons. I take precautions. I know serious self-defense (not just "women's self-defense), and though I'm not so great dealing with a person who has a gun, I feel confident I can stop someone with a knife long enough to get away. I carry VERY high powered pepper spray gotten for me by my deputy sheriff brother and my hand is always on the trigger. It will stop a bear at 15 feet. I NEVER wear headphones so I can be aware of my surroundings. I carry my cell in my pocket VERY convenient with 911 on speed dial. And I look every single person I pass in the eye and say "Hello. How you doing?" I've never had one incident that alarmed me. Walking/running there or anywhere, even in the "nicest" neighborhoods, at night alone is a fool's errand.

    I refuse to cower behind locked doors and not live my life. Then the bad guys really do win.

  • lb27608 Aug 10, 4:27 p.m.

    "A walking trail in downtown Durham and there is crime. Imagine that! If you want to walk, get a treadmill and stay home. Get a stationary bike. Go to a Gym. DO NOT GO TO DOWNTOWN Durham and expect to be safe!" -alwaysconcernedmom

    Most ridiculous quote of the day. You clearly don't know much about Durham - did you even read the article? The incidents on the ATT happened well south of downtown. The flashing incidents happened much further south, near Woodcroft. Downtown, especially the central area inside the loop, is quite safe.

    I just don't understand people who are so eager to hole themselves up inside their houses just to feel safe. No thanks! I've walked and biked the ATT dozens of times without incident. The fact that a handful of crimes has happened over the course of a year isn't going to stop me from doing it again, either.

  • lb27608 Aug 10, 4:20 p.m.

    "Can we sell Durham to another state. I would have no problem with using tax dollars for shipping cost."

    Please do. We'll take Duke and RTP with us when we go.

  • Screw WrAl Aug 10, 4:16 p.m.

    "Okay I'll concede...living in America does warrant a gun to feel and be safe."

    Carry one then. Problem solved.

  • StuckHere Aug 10, 3:32 p.m.

    Okay I'll concede...living in America does warrant a gun to feel and be safe.

  • Relic Aug 10, 3:18 p.m.

    ginny159 - Sorry to burst your bubble but I have been in all areas of Durham, worked in Durham and have seen the good and the bad of the town for many years. Durham does not just have "problems" it has a HUGE gang and crime problem and a horrible reputation because if it. Downtown Durham for many years was referred to as "The Black Wall Street" due to the number of black owned businesses and as a center for the arts and education. That has now moved out of inner Durham (with the exception of the DPAC area) to the outskirts of the town and what has taken it's place is a culture of fear and intimidation that will not speak out against the persons responsible for this mess for fear of being ostracized. As long as the folks in the paisley and sandals eating at Bruggers an in the Ninth Street area are safe and happy then the murders, prostitution, hunger and gang-banging are simply "poverty expressing itself."

  • scifion Aug 10, 2:55 p.m.

    >" If you want to walk, get a treadmill and stay home."

    I nominate this as the best quote in this comment section today.

  • ifcdirector Aug 10, 2:54 p.m.

    "Police recommend that people who use the trail not walk alone at night and carry a cellphone to call 911"

    But not a firearm right? Or even pepper spray? Is that so they can share their screams with the 911 operator as they are attacked? Does anyone remember when the police were into protecting the public rather than serving as the enforcement arm of government policy?

  • AX MAN Aug 10, 2:06 p.m.

    Can we sell Durham to another state. I would have no problem with using tax dollars for shipping cost.

  • Mike H Aug 10, 1:46 p.m.

    mrsman: give Heller v DC a read. SCOTUS put to rest the idea that the 2nd amendment only protects the weapons available during the 18th century.

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