DURHAM: 3 assaults reported on American Tobacco Trail in 5 days - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Assaults on American Tobacco Trail raise new concerns

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Three more assaults along the American Tobacco Trail have raised new concerns about safety on the trail.

The Durham Police Department has received reports of assaults on the American Tobacco Trail near Fayetteville and Pilot streets on June 5, 6 and 9.

During the latest assault, which occurred Monday around 1 p.m., a woman called police when she witnessed five teens blocking the trail and attempting to assault a bicyclist. The cyclist, however, was able to get away from the teens.

On Friday, officers were dispatched to the area near Pilot Street around 8 p.m. in response to an assault and robbery. Police say male and female victims were walking along the trail when four teens approached them and asked to use the man's cellphone. When the man told the teen "no," the suspects punched the man in his face several times before stealing the phone and an iPod.

And on June 5, a man told officers he was riding his bike when a teen punched him in the face around 12:30 p.m. between Otis and Fayetteville street. The teen did not say anything to the man and did not steal anything from him. The man said that the teen was walking with three other people, but they did not participate in the assault.

"It's ridiculous. You've really got to be safe wherever you go, but at the same time it just made me feel like I need to protect myself more," said Amber Buford, who lives in Durham and uses the trail. "I try not to go at the same times because I don’t want anybody to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it."

There were 14 reported assault along the trail in 2012 and six more in 2013. Following the assaults, Durham police stepped up patrols in the area, but said they had to pull back and reassess.

"In 2012 we had an increase in incidents along the American Tobacco Trail and we had done patrols all the way up until that point, however we really had to take a step back and see what else we could do better," said Cpt. Patrice Andrews with the Durham Police.

  • Click Here for a list of assaults between Jan 1, 2012 and Sept. 14, 2013

Last month, officers patrolled the trail 143 times. And in November, an emergency call box was installed near Otis Street.

The call box has been used 13 times since its installation, but the city said there are no plans to add other boxes along the trail.

The city said there is a camera at the head of the trail and there are plans to add four more along the trail between Enterprise Street and Morehead Avenue. The city and Blackwell Management Company have just finalized an agreement for the placement of the cameras and the agreement is currently being routed for execution.

Anyone with information about the assaults is asked to contact Investigator J. Locklear at (919) 560-4415, ext. 29309 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200.

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