Durham, N.C. — About two dozen Durham residents walked, jogged and biked Tuesday evening along the American Tobacco Trail in an effort to combat crime on the trail.
So far this year, 11 crimes have been reported on the 7½ miles of the trail that run through Durham – six assaults, four robberies and one case of indecent exposure.
In 2011, five robberies, two assaults and six cases of indecent exposure were reported on the Durham portion of the trail.
"It's a great resource for Durham, and it would be a real shame if it got to a point where people didn't feel safe using it anymore," said Drew Cummings, who jogged as part of the Take Back the Trail event.
Some Durham residents who live near the trail have written to Durham City Council members and other officials about recent crime on the trail, and many said they no longer use it.
The Durham Police Department has increased patrols in the area – both undercover and uniformed officers on foot and on bicycles – and is getting some all-terrain vehicles to help with the patrols. The department also is considering installing surveillance cameras along the trail.
Police said that it's impossible for officers to be everywhere on the trail, so they have asked for the public's help to fight crime there.
Take Back the Trail events are scheduled for every Tuesday evening over the next month.
"The community is determined to make it a safe place for individuals to spend time and participate," jogger Dan Hudgins said.
Police recommend that people go on the trail in pairs, avoid groups that are loitering in the area and carry cellphones to report suspicious activity.