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Sioux Falls neighborhood trying to curb crime

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Store owners, police and residents are working together to crack down on rising crime in a troubled neighborhood just west of downtown Sioux Falls.

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Incident reports in the Pettigrew Heights area rose from 28 in 2009 to 76 in 2013, and there have been 33 already this year. Much of the crimes involve petty offenses such as trespassing or public drunkenness, but violent offenses such as assaults and armed robberies have been on the rise, the Argus Leader newspaper reported.

The Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association has helped to pay for lighting improvements, police have increased patrols and business owners have been quicker to call police about suspicious activity.

Grocery store and restaurant owner Josefina Marquez said she calls police at least three times a week to report unruly patrons outside and inside her store.

"I feel scared sometimes," she said.

Neighborhood residents say they still feel insecure and aren't optimistic about a quick turnaround.

"I'm kind of at the loss for what we can do," said Mark Sanderson, president of the neighborhood association.

Police spokesman Sam Clemens said more cooperation from businesses, such as installing no-trespassing signs, would aid officers.

"Before we can take enforcement, we need to have something that has legal standing," he said.

He said business owners also shouldn't be afraid to call.

"Because you called that one time and the problem was solved for 10 or 15 minutes doesn't mean you can't again," he said.

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