Wilmington, NC – Wilmington police believe they've made the streets safer by seven men.
The police department Monday released the names and photos of seven men arrested in the past few days for several unrelated armed robberies, break-ins, and weapons possession charges.
Among those arrested was Demetrius Meares, accused of robbing the First Citizens bank on 17th street twice in the past month.
Robbers have hit several banks on that portion of 17th street in recent years, according to the Wilmington police, who blame the problem in part on the street's usefulness as a get-away route.
Suspect Not Caught Red-Handed
Although police said that people have been turning in money stained by a red dye pack in the second robbery, the money did not play a major role in identifying Meares.
Police say Meares was released from state prison late last year after serving 13 years for armed robberies in the Wilmington area. All but one of the arrested men announced in the press conference were on parole or probation.
Prison crowding and short sentences have made recidivism an on-going problem, according to Wilmington Police Captain Marshall Williamson.
"We arrest these guys over and over and over again," Williamson said. "After their releases, shortly after that, people, they tend to start doing what they were doing that got them into prison in the first place."
No Breaks in Drive-By
Despite the breaks in several other cases, the police had nothing new to report about the daylight murder of a young man on Rankin Street Saturday evening.
A gunman in a dark SUV shot Carl Clark near the intersection of Rankin and 11th streets before driving off. Police say they can't discuss any witnesses at this time, and are offering a $1000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the crime.
Clark's was the second murder on Wilmington streets in the past two weeks. The weekend before, a young woman was shot on North 6th Street before the killer turned the gun on himself.
Williamson said despite the two recent murders, serious crime has actually dropped significantly on the Northside since police intensified their presence in the neighborhood last year.
Police have beefed up patrols in the area since Clark's murder. Williamson says this was the first drive-by murder in Wilmington in recent years.