Concern grows over Broad Ripple crime


It's one of the area's hottest spots for nightlife, but crime is growing in Broad Ripple. People are getting mugged as they leave bars and restaurants in the area.

"He gets here, pulls a gun out and points it at my head and says, 'Get down now'," said a robbery victim who did not wish his name to be used for this story.

The man and a friend were robbed at gunpoint on a Broad Ripple street after leaving the bars early Sunday.

"Your face is in the concrete wondering, 'Is this the moment I'm going to die, is this what it comes down to?'" he said.

The robbery is one of several reported over the last few weekends all in the early morning hours.

"If you are gonna rob a person, you are gonna rob a rich person," said a parking lot attendant in the village.

While the attendant makes a living in Broad Ripple, parking cars gives him a unique outlook into an area he says is thick with kids hanging around looking for trouble, called "bridge kids." He says most every night groups of kids are drinking, smoking pot and generally creating a nuisance. On the weekends, the crowd is bigger.

Rajeh Hefni owns a gyro restaurant. He says after midnight, there's a huge influx of teens and young adults that crowd the avenue. He's been in Broad Ripple for 12 years and he says the area has changed.

At night, there are "a lot of people in Broad Ripple. Here without buying or selling anything, just hanging there," he said.

Some bars have posted no loitering signs, but it Hefni says it hasn't helped.

"We have to do more, I don't know how," he said.

Since coming to Indianapolis, acting IMPD Chief of Police Rick Hite compares Broad Ripple to Memphis' Beale Street or Bourbon Street in New Orleans. A gathering spot for tourist and an attractive nuisance for underage troublemakers.

And one of the unintended consequences of the increased traffic at night is an increase in crime.

"We have people that see this as an opportunity and we have opportunist people that like to blend in," Hite said.

IMPD also has people that are blending into the crowds. Hite would not say if he has undercover officers working Broad Ripple, just that they blend in.

While police are stepping up patrols, the village has also called on the Rev. Charles Harrison and his 10 Point Coalition.

"We'll be patrolling the areas they target as the hot spots," said Rev. Harrison.

The coalition is the same group that began patrolling downtown last spring after five teens were shot along the canal. Harrison believes hundreds of the teens who used to hang out downtown have moved to Broad Ripple.

"When you have a lot of kids coming, you also have the criminal element coming, so people are carrying guns and robbing," said Rev. Harrison.

Harrison says the patrols should help, but he says there are other things that can and should be done, like enforcing the curfew. He's also thinks the curfew should be moved up.

"It would help us get young people home much earlier and lessen the number we deal with," he said.