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According to this article at CNN, SUV owners who are are having trouble paying for gas and other associated costs are turning to an old school trick to dump their rides. They paid an arsonist $300 each to steal their SUV, take it out to the middle of nowhere and light it on fire for the insurance money.
I wonder if they all ran out and bought a Prius with the cash?
According to Bertram de Souza, columnist for the Vindicator, the latest danger to Youngstown city residents is an activity he calls "swarming", in which groups of young thugs crossing streets join hands and dare oncoming motorists to hit them. In one such incident involving a Vindicator staffer on Fifth Avenue, a call was placed to the police and this group of soon-to-be criminals surrounded the driver's car. Luckily neighbors had come out of their houses to see what was going on and things did not escalate.
But they could have.
You can read about the incident here on the Vindictor's website. de Souza also has two follow up columns based on the incident and the broader subject of crime in the city.
I lived in the city for a time, went to YSU and have friends who live there so over the last twenty years or so I've seen the decay of Youngstown first hand. I've never really had a problem except for having a bicycle stolen, my father's house broken into and had some bums curse at me because I wouldn't pay my gutter tax. Living outside the city, none of that has happened to me. However, I still feel relatively safe in Youngstown. This incident bothers me, though.
If this goes on and people begin to feel afraid of the city, they will stop using services the city provides and stop patronizing businesses like the newly opened Chevy Center. It would be a mistake of mythical proportions for newly elected Mayor Jay Williams to ignore this particular incident and the bad press generated by it. The mayor needs to work with the county to get the jail running at full capacity and to lock up as many of these street thugs as they can lay hands on.
There are a lot of positive things happening within Youngstown such as the opening of the Chevy Center, the rebuilding project known as Youngstown 2010 and continued construction at YSU. It would be a shame to let the murder rate skyrocket, as it is on pace to do with 11 so far this year, or to let incidents such as this "swarming" scare people off. It's up to residents and the new mayor to say whether they will stand up or surrender.