By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Lights out. Hampden residents are threatening to leave their famous 34th Street Christmas lights off due to a recent string of violent crimes in the neighborhood.

Rick Ritter has more from homeowners who are on edge.

The entire Hampden community has certainly seen an uptick in crime over the past few weeks. Longtime residents say they don’t want to scrap the holiday tradition, but they’re not putting thousands of families’ lives at risk.

Frightened for their lives, some Hampden residents are beside themselves.

“When you live in fear, it’s ridiculous,” said Matthew Fouse. “It’s just outrageous right now.”

Others are scared to walk their streets.

“I’m disgusted. Sometimes I think, ‘Gosh, it’s times to move,'” said Patsy Dailey.

One violent crime after the other is rocking the entire community.

“More rampant than I’ve heard in many years. It’s never been like this,” said Charlotte Bohn.

On Monday, police say a 67-year-old man was attacked and beaten unconscious while picking up trash on the side of Falls Road. Three hours later, a nearby Subway restaurant was held up.

Just days ago, Jessica Baroody woke up to screams of horror from her roommate on their front porch.

“I was asleep at the time but woke up to her screams and she was robbed at knifepoint,” Baroody said.

The uptick in crime has 34th Street homeowners considering scrapping their longtime holiday tradition.

“This Christmas, we don’t want to put the lights up and then put other people at risk,” said Baroody.

It’s a tradition thousands look forward to each year.

“It’s an absolutely huge deal. It’s world reknown,” said Fouse.

Now they’re calling on police for more patrol.

“Have more visibility, more patrols in this area. And I think that’s all it will take,” said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

But they say without stronger enforcement in Hampden, the lights might stay off this season.

“I don’t want it to come to that. I love it. It’s my favorite time of the year,” said Baroody.

Police say, compared to last year, robberies  and aggravated assaults are down in Hampden, but burglaries are up 33 percent.

Police did arrest two suspects involved in the beating of that 67-year-old man and another suspect they believe robbed the Subway restaurant.

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Rick Ritter


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