Local News

Small Towns Getting Big-City Gangs

Posted November 29, 2007
Updated November 30, 2007

— Downtown Roxboro looks like it was lifted right off a postcard, with old storefronts lined with American flags, but amid that small-town charm, gang issues are on the rise.

"It's place you want to bring your family to settle down," resident Paul Owens said.

Among those new residents, however, are gang members, police say. Roxboro old-timers said they, too, have noticed the trend.

"We get a lot of traffic from Durham this way now," resident Ricky Chandler said. "Since (U.S. Highway) 501 is wide open, it's a wide shot here."

Last year, the Roxboro Police Department added a part-time officer to deal exclusively with gang issues. The officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said he believes there are 30 documented gang members in Roxboro.

"We'll see guys with the colors, the tattoos or the burns," he said.

The officer said he believes that Roxboro holds appeal for gang members living in larger cities, such as Durham and Raleigh.

"When they come to a small town like Roxboro, they're able to have more so-called rank here," he said.

Police track areas where gang members live and have documented a growing graffiti problem. Gangs are behind an increasing drug trade, officers said.

"I think we've all realized there's an issue here," Roxboro Police Chief Jeff Insley said, adding that Roxboro needs to act quickly to deal with the issue. He has been pushing for the department to add a full-time gang officer and to conduct more gang-awareness training.

"A lot of folks move here because we maintain the small town image," Insley said. "You'd like to see it stay. You don't want a lot of change, but some's going to come."

The county's Juvenile Crime Prevention Council plans to hold a gang-awareness training session at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Human Services Building, 355-B S. Madison Blvd. The meeting will be open to the public.


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  • leo-nc Dec 1, 2007

    "Maybe small towns like Roxoboro should invest in opening up centers and things of that nature to lure young adults in rather than them being lured in by gangs"

    Although it sounds nice and sweet, I have to problems with your theory:

    1. For the small town kid who is vulnerable and just acting like a wannabe, this might be an okay solution. The big issue here is that the REAL gang members could care less about this. As a matter of fact, those same REAL gang members might very well come to your community center and rob, assault and kill the kids who attend.

    2. These REAL gangs travel to different places when they feel heat in another. A community center isn't going to bring the heat. Prison time (real prison time), REAL police work and death with bring the heat.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Nov 30, 2007

    Yep, The kids are always in gangs because we don't provide constant relaxation and constructive things for them to do. Since when is it the responsibility of society to provide constructive things to do. Kids should be raised to behave in better ways...oh wait, the parents don't do this because most of these kids are nothing more than a monthly check to the egg or sperm donors.

  • pack-man Nov 30, 2007

    remove illegals = no gangs

  • laverne Nov 30, 2007

    Why don't the parents just keep their child(ren) at home?? Keep their kids in school, and church? Make them relize that when they go out to a movie, or skating, etc., it's a privilege. I'm sure the child will appreciate it more. Learn how to do home chores. Just prepare them for adulthood! Parents already buy their child(ren) computers, etc. to keep them in the saftey in their on home. Come on parents, don't let your kids run wild!!

  • Mo Nov 30, 2007

    D. Young people should be REQUIRED to have one of two jobs as preparation of becoming a productive and responsible member of society: 1) attend school through high-school and get good grades, or 2) join the military to grow up and learn responsibility. No one would have time for gangs! It's also time to pull the plug on junk TV (VH1, MTV) that continually works to sell our kids the concept that the bottom dwelling members of our society are the cool folks. They become what society allows them to be taught.

  • uncw40oz Nov 30, 2007

    kids having kids having kids having kids . . . most don't even know who the fathers are. Growing up with no positive influences, caring less about education, etc. This is why we should have some sort of sterilization policy in place! I know this sounds bad, but kids don't understand the theory of love. They haven't gotten love from mom, don't know dad so they figure, Hey, I'll have a baby and they baby will love me. Its sad and bringing down our society!

  • aintbackingdwn Nov 30, 2007

    To address the gang problem you will have to tackle the inner city youth problem. No one will touch that issue with a ten foot pole for fear of the NAACP jumping on them for "characterizations". "Its their social / economic plight - you can't hold that against them. They are held down on purpose - blah blah blah.

  • casp3r Nov 30, 2007

    "We get a lot of traffic from Durham this way now,"= How dare the try and blame this on Durham.

  • iamforjustice Nov 30, 2007

    If America really wanted gangs out we could get them out. Instead of our armies always fighting on foreign territory, let them fight here. If gangs are so bad let them fight the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines. I don't care if you are 2 or 200, if you in a gang that means you are ready for war. Bring it on. But America doesn't see it that way. When gang members break into the home of the president and kills her in cold blood then may be some laws will change. A lady up the street from me was raped by gang members and she is 85 years old.

  • SteamTrain Nov 30, 2007

    Add a penny to my tax rate. An ounce of prevention now is necessary. Hire more officers, and step on them. HARD!