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Business Owners Take Crime Problem to Police

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The remains of a car break-in
RALEIGH — In an example of grass roots activism at itsbest, 22 Raleigh business owners joined forces to let the city knowthere's a crime problem on South Wilmington Street. Friday, they had theirsay in the police chief's office and now believe the police will help themsolve this problem.

Thursday night, someone smashed the windows on two cars and stolestereos in the parking lot of G and G Automotive. This sort of thing hasbecome a common occurrence in downtown Raleigh over the past six months.

Friday night, however, merchants believe things will be different. That's because Police Chief Mitch Brown has promised to help.

"We came out this morning, and were going to pull the vehicle in andnoticed that the window was busted out of it and noticed that the radiohad been taken out too," explains business owner Stewart Hill.

Hill is getting used to vandalism and theft in his parking lot. It'shappened twice this week, and about eight times in the past year. That'swhy he joined 21 other business owners at a meeting with Raleigh PoliceChief Mitch Brown. The merchants shared their concerns about crime intheir neighborhood.

"Vandalism, stealing cars, breaking windows, petty stuff, but it adds upin a 6 month period," Frankie Settle explains.

After the meeting, merchants said they believe police will spend moretime patroling and catching criminals in their neighborhood.

"I learned a lot about preventive methods," says David Andrews. "We hada lot of input. The Chief and his staff listened closely. I feel realpositive about it."

The merchants say the best promise Brown made was to make police morevisible in their area. They hope it's one he will keep.

"I think just to have their presence here more, people seeing them driveby, is going to help a whole lot," Hill says.

The business owners have also decided to form a committee which willmeet on a regular basis to talk about the crime problem. They believe thatif they work together they can make the area safe again.

Photographer:Lori FousheeandKerrieHudzinski

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