Police get 307 calls about Wilco Hess

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011

By Shelley Smith
Local residents and city officials call the Wilco Hess at 500 E. Innes St., which borders the Park Avenue neighborhood, a hot spot for criminal activity. And theyíre taking measures to cool it off.
The Salisbury Police Department responded to 307 calls at the Wilco Hess between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 last year. Of those, officers were called more than 127 times to investigate suspicious people.
At least nine of the calls were for fights, robberies or reports of shots fired. The months of March and May had the highest number of calls about violent crimes.
ěThe Hess station is a place to congregate,î said C.J. Peters, who lives in the Park Avenue neighborhood. ěAnytime youíve got a place where you have alcohol and food to eat, you have a lot of traffic. There are a lot of people coming in and out that (people) can tempt with prostitution, drugs or begging.î
Peters said he wants to see ěNo Loiteringî signs posted at the business, which he said has worked at other stores. He also wants the alcohol sales to end at 9 or 10 p.m.
ěThey (Wilco Hess) are not proactive,î Peters said. ěItís for profit as far as I can see it. I think if they are going to make money in our city, theyíve got a responsibility. People get knifed there and that shouldnít happen.î
Even though the gas station and convenience store is a short walk away, Park Avenue resident Garth Birdsey said he never stops at the Wilco Hess.
ěI donít like to use their services because I donít want to support them,î he said. ěTheyíre not good for my neighborhood.î
The Salisbury Police Department and Salisbury Code Enforcement department are working with the owners of Wilco Hess to try to abate the problems. The police department recently met with the president of the company and other top officials, Police Chief Rory Collins said.
ěWe are working in conjunction with the Alcohol Law Enforcement Nuisance Abatement Team,î Collins said. The city of Salisbury has sent company officials a letter informing them of the start of a ěnuisance abatementî effort at the business.
Collins said the company has cooperated, so far, installing additional lighting around the entire business and a ěbeefed upî video surveillance system.
ěOnce itís done we will actually have the ability to log on to watch the activity there live in the parking lot area there, and surrounding (areas),î Collins said.
ěThey are trying at this point, but weíve got a ways to go,î Collins said. ěUntil the problem is resolved there, we wonít be satisfied.î
Calls to the Wilco Hess headquarters in Winston-Salem were not returned.
Contact reporter Shelley Smith at 704-797-4246.