Sumter crime has some businesses worried

By Jillian Capobianco - bio | email

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - Recent crime in Sumter has put residents and business owners in the area on edge.

One worker at a Sumter clothing shop, who requested to remain anonymous, says she's lived in the city her whole life and is worried about what would happen to her if crime got worse.

"Our business would probably shut down, we won't have anybody in the community because everybody is killing everybody," the woman said.

Sumter Chamber of Commerce President Grier Blackwelder says crime is not affecting the city's growth.

"Just in 2009 we had 40 small business ribbon cuttings for our chamber and that's just businesses that are members of ours," said Blackwelder.

But some small business owners say crime is making it hard to keep their stores open. Grocery Store Owner Maria Contreras says her family shop was held at gun point twice last year. She described one robbery that happened in July.

"He took out the gun and pulled her back here and told her to give him the gold of her was going to shoot her," said Contreras.

Going through two armed robberies and suffering from the down economy, Contreras doesn't know how long her family will stay in Sumter.

"I don't like to keep my children around here," said Contreras.

Blackwelder says police have crime under control and Sumter is a great place for business.

"Our law enforcement is taking a proactive approach to crime and our business people see that it's a very safe place to be," said Blackwelder.

On Monday, the State Law Enforcement Division, the Sumter Police Department and other agencies will hold a news conference. They will announce the results of a 4 month violent crime reduction campaign in the city of Sumter.

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