Local News

Citizens Fight Growth-Fueled Crime in Eastern Wake County

Posted September 14, 2007 12:11 a.m. EDT

— Eastern Wake County has always had a small town feel, but with population growth, some communities have found themselves combating big-city crimes.

Knightdale's population has almost tripled in just over a decade, up to nearly 9,000 from 3,000 in the mid-1990s, town manager Seth Lawless said.

"A lot of that's been fueled by the two new roads, I-540 and 264. It's a lot more convenient to live here," Lawless said.

When a community grows, so does the criminal element, and eastern Wake County is experiencing that phenomena, said Mike Anders, head of the Eastern Wake Crimestoppers.

"What we've been experiencing over here is break-ins, vehicle break-ins, home break-ins, and then some violent crimes, too," he said.

Anders pointed to Wendell, where Bobby Marcellus Frazier, 60, registered sex offender was arrested last week for assaulting two elderly women.

That's where Eastern Wake Crimestoppers helps out, giving police extra eyes and ears in the community, Wendell Police Chief Joe Privette said. Crimestoppers is run by citizens and pays rewards for information about crimes, all while keeping the tipsters' identities anonymous.

"Folks know what's going on. We've also received a lot information that people didn't want any money for," Privette said, "but it was helpful to have that anonymous line where they can call in and just simply give us that information."

In Zebulon, Crimestoppers helped solve and catch two suspects in a break-in at a Nationwide Insurance office last year. The two suspects "are in jail for about 10 years, is my understanding," Lindsey Weaver, a Nationwide agent, said.

Crimestoppers' strategy of an anonymous tip line and rewards is working in eastern Wake County, Anders said.

"We have given away a lot of money, and when we give away a lot of money, that removes criminals off the streets," he said.

The group also wants criminals to literally pay for their crimes, Anders said.

If a tip leads to a conviction, the group believes the convicted criminal should be required to reimburse Crimestoppers for the reward it pays out. The group is working with judges and district attorneys in Wake County on that idea, Anders said.

Crimestoppers is an example of what communities need to do to prevent the growth of crime, officers said.

"Everyone has a responsibility to help control crime," Privette said.