Local News

Mugging prompts increased patrols in downtown Durham

Posted December 2, 2008 4:56 p.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2008 6:50 p.m. EST

— The downtown area has significantly less crime than other parts of Durham, but police are trying to increase their presence there after a prominent businessman was attacked in a parking garage last week.

Martin Eakes, 54, co-founder of Self-Help Credit Union, was beaten and robbed by four men on Nov. 24 in a city-owned garage on Corcoran Street. He had to undergo surgery Tuesday for injuries to his arm.

"It was a harrowing experience for him," said Bill Kalkhof, president of Downtown Durham Inc. and a longtime friend of Eakes. "It is unacceptable that this would happen to anybody in a downtown parking garage, and people need to be held responsible for the job they are required to do."

Kalkhof, whose organization encourages revitalization of the downtown area, said all parking decks should have adequate lighting and security.

The Durham Police Department is stepping up patrols downtown, Capt. Loretta Clyburn said, especially with more people coming to the area for events at the new Durham Performing Arts Center.

"I think it is always a good time to increase the police personnel," said Clyburn, who works in the department's Central District, which encompasses downtown. "It was just the No. 1 thing that everybody wanted."

According to department statistics, about 4 percent of Durham's crime occurs in the Central District. Similarly, Raleigh's downtown district sees about 3.5 percent of the Capital City's crime.

The department added a 19-officer bike patrol downtown last summer, and they plan to shift more of those officers to patrol at night.

Some parking garages already have private security, and police are working with the management company of the other decks to make sure security is adequate.

"Any cleanliness issues, any lighting issues, we would definitely contact them," Clyburn said.

Police continue to follow leads in Eakes' attack, but no charges have been filed in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.