By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Robberies, burglaries, assaults and shootings have become commonplace in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood.

Gidget Bailey owns Tin Cup’s bar and restaurant on Rice Street. She and many of her regulars listened to St. Paul police when they said criminals like to do their deeds in the dark.

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“Between April and July 14, 49 police calls strictly for the North End of St. Paul,” Bailey said. “If you can light up your area more, it detours crime, so that’s where some of the community members got together and decided, you know what, let’s do this.”

So they held fundraisers inside Tin Cup’s.

“Before you know it, we had raised $3,800 to roughly get 37, 38 lights on for a full year,” Gidget said.

Xcel Energy began activating those lights this week.

“I’m so glad we are here now we are at the point where lights are going in, thank God,” said resident Joe Byrnes.

(credit: CBS)

St. Paul police have also increased their presence in the area. There is even a dedicated squad car that only responds to calls for shots fired.

“The crime has sort of stayed consistent or its moved down the road,” said resident Paul Krieger.

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This group believes a heavier police presence is needed to truly deal with increase in crime.

“I would like to see a police station here centrally located in our area,” Bailey said.

He says there use to be a police station on Rice Street, and crime has increased since it left.

Chief Todd Axtell has said in the past he is in favor of putting a station on the North End, but it will take time.

“It’s a visual presence. It might detour some of these criminals they might move on,” Byrnes said.

But until a move is made to station more officers in the North End, these residents hope lighting up alleys will have a ripple effect, and send criminals running.

“If there is a shots fired or someone threw a gun, more lights, they are going to be able to track it, canines are going to be able to track it, it keeps them safe but it mainly keeps us safe,” said resident Dee Walsh.

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Bailey and her neighbors hope to raise more money next year to make sure they have the funds to keep the lights on — and to add more lights, if necessary.

Reg Chapman