Talk of the Town - Crime fears

November 02, 1997


Staff Writer

Audrey Mardon no longer keeps the front door of her Hagerstown home unlocked.

"I didn't used to worry about it," Mardon, 54, said. "But I do now. I've had my car broken into. I've had furniture stolen off my front porch. A week ago someone broken into my daughter's car and stole her purse.

"This used to be a nice neighborhood. You never had to worry about anything. You could leave your front door unlocked. Now all of a sudden nothing's sacred any more," Mardon said.

Throughout the Tri-State area Saturday, residents spoke about crime in interviews.

They spoke of a recent drive-by shooting death in Chambersburg, Pa., of a 7-year-old Martinsburg, W.Va., girl abducted and slain, of drug-related shootings in Hagerstown.


But the 25 Tri-State area residents interviewed appeared nearly equally divided about whether they worry more about crime now than in the past.

"I don't worry about nothing. I'm almost 80 years old," said Kevin Sullivan, 79, of Chambersburg, Pa., with a laugh. "It's not as bad as they worry about."

"I don't think people worry enough about it," said Ed Cunningham, 51, of Hagerstown.

Several residents had been the victims of crimes, but said they don't believe crime is as bad as people believe.

"It isn't as bad as everyone says it is," said Bucky Chapman, 42, of Fox Glen, W.Va., who was stabbed with a knife during a brawl this summer.

Others worry about crime even though they have never been personally touched by it.

Iris Kresge said that she worries about the children at her elementary school and about her nephew, a Hagerstown Police officer.

Kresge said that for years, people would say serious crimes happened elsewhere.

"Unfortunately, that's becoming more and more prevalent here," she said.

"People are more leery of each other. I think to some extent people have to be more leery of each other. It's sad, but that's the way society is today," she said as she wiped rain water off chairs set up for the annual Alsatia Mummers' Parade.

Cheryl Peschel, of Chambersburg, Pa., said she stays home a lot, but it's not because she worries for her safety. "I think they make too much of it," she said.

Gennie Boynton, 47, of Chambersburg, Pa., stood nearby Peschel at a Chambersburg laundromat, pulling clothes out of a dryer and listening to Peschel.

"It's nothing here compared to San Diego, Boynton said.

Boynton moved from San Diego earlier this year.

There, drive-by shootings occurred on a routine basis, she said. Local newscasts had more murders to report with each broadcast.

There were drugs and weapons in the schools and gang shootings were frequent, she said.

Even when a drive-by shooting occurred about a block from her home she did not worry because she was accustomed to it.

"Since we've been here there's been one drive-by shooting and a couple of other robberies There's hasn't been nearly as much as what we were accustomed to there," Boynton said.

Erik Schweitzer, 17, of Chambersburg, said he worries more about crime than he used to.

"I lock up my car when I go places, but I don't really worry about our house getting robbed," Schweitzer said.

His family has had their cars broken into on a couple of occasions.

His friend, Andy Newman, 17, of Chambersburg, said there's not really any problems with crime at their school.

The worst crime that occurred to him happened Friday night when Halloween vandals wrapped toilet paper around his mailbox, he said.

Teresa Harshman, 50, of Hagerstown, said she's more aware of crime and avoids some areas, but otherwise she feels safe.

"I think people should be aware of the crime happening in the community. You have to be aware. But you can't let it control your life," Harshman said.

Harshman said she's never been the victim of crime.

"Maybe that's why I don't think about it too much," she said.

Robert Strother, 20, of Hagerstown, said he worries about crime frequently.

"I'm scared people will knock down my door. I've had that happen before. They got in and stole things," Strother said.

Thurman Beavers, 42, of Hagerstown, said he is frequently awakened by young teenagers roaming the streets late at night.

"It's a little frightening," Beavers said.

Misty Owens, 18, of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., didn't think about crime a lot. Then two of her friends were killed in separate incidents in her small hometown of Worthington, W.Va.

"I never thought it would occur there," she said as she did laundry at a Charles Town laundromat.

Talina McDonald, 20, of Shenandoah Junction said there are a lot of drugs in the community and that leads to other crimes.

She was terrified and saddened when a Berkeley County girl was abducted and killed recently. "It makes you not even want to let your kids outside," she said.

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