A slew of crimes in the downtown Ridgeland have area business owners crying for help as yet another business fell victim to a strong-armed robbery Thursday morning.
"I would describe Ridgeland as one of the prettiest small towns off the coast in South Carolina,” said Donna Rowell, owner of Fiddler’s Seafood Restaurant.
It's a small town, and it's recently seen a lot of changes. The population has grown exponentially in the past decade and a half, from 2,500 to 4,000 residents. And in the last few months, the crime rate downtown has sky rocketed, as well.
"When I started 15 years ago, we didn't have to worry about locking ourselves up, things like that, you basically knew everybody. Right now, we have concerns, we have to have a crime plan,” said Rowell.
Rowell is one of several business owners whose business has been targeted recently. She said lately, downtown is often a dangerous scene.
"During the night, you know, we hear gunshots. We see people running,” said Rowell.
Ruth McBreyer owns a business a few blocks away and she's no stranger to violence, either.
"Our business has been broken into twice,” said McBreyer, downtown Ridgeland business owner.
She suspects much of the crime could be traced to a number of out-of-towners, and people who are recently released from prison and park themselves at week-to-week rentals.
"We do not know that's where it's coming from. But there are other business owners here that have watched the activity. There's one business directly across the street from one of them, and we see a lot of very suspicious activity,” said McBreyer.
For now, the crime continues to plague Ridgeland but for Rowell, she said she won't stop fighting for the town she loves to become the town she remembers.
"I'm going to fight for this town. And I'm going to make sure we get the crime out of this town as much as we can,” said Rowell.
WTOC reached out to the town administrator, as well. He declined to give a formal statement, but he said the town is working on installing surveillance cameras downtown.
No word yet on when exactly that will be.
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