SPOKANE, Wash. - The Ben Burr Trail was supposed to connect the South Hill to downtown Spokane. Instead, residents say a newly paved stretch of it turned into a trail of crime.
The City of Spokane spent $1.1 million this past summer to widen, extend and repave the Ben Burr Trail. It's now linked to the Centennial trail, running from Liberty Park up to 11th Ave., carving into the bluff below the East Central neighborhood.
But residents in that neighborhood have started referring to the trail as the "crime freeway." A concerned resident reached out to KXLY4 saying more foot traffic is bringing more crime into his neighborhood.
"The trail's going to be great, you know what I mean, but in some ways it's a double edged sword," the resident said.
He asked KXLY4 to hide his identity out of fear of retaliation, as did several other neighbors we talked to, so we'll refer to him as "Bill."
Bill's was one of at least three homes hit by thieves Monday night.
"I came out and checked my truck, I didn't have anything in my truck. My boat on the other hand, I had a lot of stuff in my boat," he said.
Bill awoke to a text message from a neighbor telling him equipment was stolen from her property near Bill's home and to check his property.
"[They] stole a compressor, we're having a shop built, they stole a compressor and they stole some of the other stuff from the workers," the neighbor who texted Bill said.
Since August when the trail was paved, Bill says numerous cars have been stolen and broken into and homeless people are finding their way up the trail.
"We've had people sleeping on people's doorways up here, and this is normally a nice neighborhood," he said.
It's gotten to the point where neighbors are referring to the trail as a "crime freeway."
"And to have that feeling of somebody getting into the back of my truck, that's my property, that's my space. I work hard for that and you feel taken advantage of," Bill said.
Aside from the thousands of dollars in tools and fishing equipment the criminals took, homeowners say the thieves also stole their sense of security.
"Well, you feel violated," Bill's neighbor said.
"The severity of the crime in our neighborhood is new, and we want it to stop," a third homeowner said.
Residents say they'd like to see increased patrols in the area. They'd also like more security on the trail like lights and some kind of barrier to prevent vehicles from driving down it.
Those homeowners whose property was stolen or damaged did file a report with Crime Check.