Crime has downtown residents ‘more cautious’

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 27, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; Sue White used to feel secure walking her dog at midnight down the quiet streets of downtown Natchez, but you’ll no longer find her out anywhere near dusk.

She’s added two deadbolt locks to her door, and her landlady will soon add a peephole to the front door.

Just before sunset on Nov. 8, as White was walking home along North Union Street from the convenience store where she works, she was mugged at gunpoint.

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&uot;It’s made me more aware of my surroundings,&uot; said White, who said she still has nightmares and is in counseling as a result of the incident. &uot;Before, I was too secure in my own little world. Now, I’m more aware, Š more cautious.&uot;

That was not the only armed robbery or robbery attempt to take place in downtown Natchez in recent weeks.

On Nov. 20, a young man wielding a gun robbed a woman of her purse just before 6:30 p.m. as she was walking to her car from her job at Anruss Salon on North Commerce Street.

Just over a week later, a man kicked in the door of a 88-year-old woman’s Homochitto Street house, forced the woman into his car, drove a short distance. He allegedly stole her purse and pushed her out of the vehicle on Providence Road.

And on Dec. 21, a Natchez woman fought off a would-be armed robber armed with a knife outside a downtown bank, according to police reports.

Interim Police Chief Mike Mullins pointed out that arrests have been made in the first three robberies. In the case of the Commerce Street robbery, the alleged robber was only 13 years old.

He also pointed out that the crime rate for this month is actually down from the same period last year.

But in a sense, White has the right idea, Mullins said.

&uot;We normally don’t have any problem downtown at night, but you always need to take the ordinary precautions,&uot; Mullins said. &uot;Don’t walk alone at night, and be aware of your surroundings.&uot;

Others who live and work downtown are taking similar precautions.

Although she has not been a victim of an armed robbery, downtown resident Peggy Pierrepont is taking precautions to help insure that doesn’t happen in the future.

&uot;I don’t walk my dog in the afternoon &045; say, 5 or 6 p.m. &045; or at night,&uot; Pierrepont said. &uot;One of the joys of living here is being able to walk around town, Š so it’s a tremendous pity.&uot;

White agreed. In addition to money, credit cards and pictures, she said she lost much more when she was mugged.

&uot;He took my purse,&uot; White said. &uot;But he also took something else he had no right to take away &045; my security.&uot;

Still, if there is one bright side to the incident, White said, it was the professionalism with which Natchez police handled the situation. &uot;They were fantastic,&uot; she said.