ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Neighborhoods close to the fairgrounds have become targets of vandals, and some think state fairgoers are to blame for a spike in crime.
Homeowners on Albany Avenue have had their political yard signs stolen, and one homeowner even had a window smashed.
But police say it’s not as bad as it seems. The concentration of people in one area can deter crime, with too many eyes and ears around who many call police.
But this neighborhood has had its share of quality of life crimes, which some believe are linked to people coming and going from the fairground.
Neighborhood resident Amber Duncan if nearly fed up.
“It’s getting annoying,” Duncan said.
The 1400 block of Albany Avenue in St. Paul is dealing with vandalism.
“Lately I’ve been hearing about break-ins and things getting destroyed,” Duncan said.
Neighbors say political lawn signs are taking a beating. Some were stolen, while others were defaced and placed back in another yard down the street.
One neighbor had a porch window taken out by a brick. Police were called, and the owner spent $175 to fix it.
Some believe all this vandalism is the work of people who park on the block and walk through the neighborhood to the state fair.
Sr. Commander Todd Axtel of St. Paul Police says residents know to contact police when they suspect crime is in progress.
“We have a lot of good relationships with our neighborhoods and they do call the police when they see suspicious activity and we really want to encourage them to continue to do that,” Axtel said.
St. Paul police patrol the outside of the fairgrounds, while State Fair Police take care of what happens inside.
“Criminals don’t like witnesses, and the State Fair brings about 1.7 million good witnesses to St. Paul every year,” he said.
Axtel says crime is usually at an all-time low during the State Fair time because there are so many people around. He knows some small problems pop up when you get out into the neighborhoods.
Neighborhood resident Hervey Evans says it’s not that bad.
“We don’t really have too many problems. There’s a little bit of trash in the neighborhood, not too much vandalism other than this other window things. So year-to-year it’s been quite pleasant,” Evans said.
Hervey Evans says he likes to show off his neighborhood, letting fair goers know it’s a great place to live.
“We get to see the fireworks every night, we get to see lots of people coming through the neighborhood who are on their way to have a whole lot of fun, and we get to meet a lot of people who are coming from the State Fair who have just had a great time,“ he said.
Some neighbors are so annoyed by all the cars and people they actually leave for the entire two weeks of the fair.
Police want homeowners to be aware, and for fair goers to be “civil” while parking in these residential neighborhoods.