Detroit police have investigated nearly 700 violent crimes at gas stations in the past year, prompting city officials and citizen patrol groups to try to quell the steady beat of murders, carjackings, shootings and armed robberies, reports the Detroit News. Gas stations in Detroit have long been breeding grounds for crime; some residents feel they're risking their lives patronizing what often are the only viable neighborhood businesses, while many suburbanites refuse to fuel up in the city.
City officials have put a new focus on making gas stations safer by requiring owners to install security cameras by Aug. 31. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson caused a stir in January when he criticized Detroit in a New Yorker article, saying, “You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That's just a call for a carjacking.” Patterson echoed the sentiments of many suburbanites, including Max Mohr, whose brother-in-law, Steve Utash, was severely beaten by a mob outside an gas station last month after he stopped to aid a child he accidentally struck with his pickup. Police Chief James Craig says gas station violence has gotten out of hand. “It's something I've not seen as frequently in other cities: In Detroit, gas stations are magnets for criminal activity,” Craig said. “We've seen far too many shootings, carjackings and other criminal activity.”