Crime crackdown along Carowinds Boulevard aims to stop rising trend

FORT MILL, S.C. — It’s a problem they’ve tracked for years, but the York County Sheriff’s Office is now taking extra steps to crack down on crimes near Carowinds Boulevard.

One local business owner told Channel 9′s Tina Terry that the area was family-friendly, with the Carowinds amusement park right up the street. But now he’s concerned that violent crimes up and down the corridor could drive people away.

“Individuals want to feel safe,” said Maliek Carrington with Famlee Realty. “[They want to come to a place and have quiet enjoyment.”

Carrington said Famlee Realty being near Carowinds Boulevard hoped to draw customers from both Carolinas. But he and other business owners say recent crime has been a big concern.

“It’s a shame that a person has to get out of the car and look over their shoulder,” Carrington said.

Just last month, detectives investigated a shooting close to their businesses. It was one of four violent crimes reported in the Carowinds area so far this year -- for comparison, there were a total of 15 violent crimes in the same area for the entire year last year.

“It is getting off to a bad start,” said Trent Faris with the York County Sheriff’s Office. “So that’s why we’re going to crack down now before it gets out of hand.”

Faris says the sheriff’s office has launched a special operation called “March Madness,” where they’ll increase surveillance and patrols around Carowinds and down Highway 21 into Fort Mill.

“We want to let people who want to come down and commit crime in this area know, we’re going to end that, we’re going to end that pretty strong,” Faris said.

Russell Osterberg owns a sports arcade in the area, and he hopes the operation pays off.

“Things get wild at night, lots of violence, people getting shot,” Osterberg said. “It’s hard for us to expand our program to bring youth in this area when there’s crime like that.”

The sheriff’s office tells Channel 9 that the operation won’t just focus on violent crime. They’ll also be stopping shoplifting and drug crimes that impact local hotels.

And despite the name, the increased patrols will go on well past March.

(WATCH: Carowinds announces new chaperone policy following ‘unruly behavior’ at Halloween event)

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