Near abduction awakens community

Freshman Leslie Stewart is paying more attention to her safety.

The day she moved into her new home at Breckenridge Apartments earlier this month, another resident was almost abducted.

Steward said the incidence has heightened her awareness.

?I watch before I go out some where and I do not go out alone at night,? Stewart said.

Lisa Shea, property manager for Breckenridge Apartments, said many residents are scared because of crime statistics reported on a local news broadcast. Statistics that were not accurately reported, Shea said.

Shea said the statistics were said to come from Breckenridge Apartments, when they were from the entire District I area, which includes from 42nd Street to 46th Street and Fletcher Avenue to Skipper Road.

?Breckenridge had less than 1/10 of the crime statistics from the District I area? Shea said. ?It hurt us personally that things were blown out of proportion.?

There have been nothing but noise complaints from the area ? which is common in an environment with college students, she said.

After the abduction attempt on Brooke Minton, local media referred to the apartment district north of the university as one of the most dangerous areas in the city.

According to Lt. Rod Reder, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff?s Office, the crime statistics for the area from January 2001 were 847 service calls, 48 burglaries, 46 disturbance calls, no shootings or stabbings and now one attempted abduction.

Reder said students can keep themselves safe by traveling in groups to prevent becoming a victim of abduction or assault.

Reder also said students should call the sheriff?s department whenever they see something suspicious.

?People are always afraid that we will get mad if the person is gone when we get there,? he said. ?This is not true. We don?t tolerate any suspicious actions.?

To help Breckenridge residents stay alert, Hillsborough Deputy Earl Chantlos conducted a safety awareness seminar at the apartment complex three days after the incident.

Chantlos provided safety tips for residents to prevent them from becoming victims of any crime.

Shea said the apartment complex had the safety awareness seminar planned before the incident, since it holds educational seminars for residents at the beginning of every year.

?It?s something Breckenridge does as a part of the College Park Community to make freshmen and residents aware of their safety,? Shea said.

According to Shea, Breckenridge will be holding two more educational seminars regarding auto theft prevention, date rape and drug awareness.

In addition to the educational seminars, Breckenridge Apartments have Critical Intervention Services, a security organization that patrols the complex from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Shea said CIS patrols on foot and in a patrol car to watch for suspicious activity and to escort residents to their apartment door if asked to do so.

?The welfare of our students is important. If we did not care, we would not be in business? she said.

Contact Grace Agostin