Lacie Lowry, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The City of Tulsa is trying to shut down crime by shutting down an alley.
Leaders have only made this move a few other times, when crime gets so bad in an area that making arrests has almost no effect.
That particular alley is a known spot for drug deals, muggings and a quick getaway for suspects. So the city council voted Thursday night to block it off at the request of police and a very persistent business owner.
Moe's Quick Mart at South Lewis and East 6th Street offers sandwiches, snacks and a side street stocked with crime.
"At nighttime, it is very dangerous," Moe Sepahvand, Moe's Quick Mart Owner, said.
Moe Sepahvand has owned this gas station for six years, coping with crime every day. While we were covering this story, he made a woman go back inside and pay for the beer she tried to steal.
He says the alley is even worse.
"People get beat in here all the time. They would even kill people in this alley, they would run, just all kinds of crime," Sepahvand said.
Sepahvand pushed hard to have the alley shut down with the help of Tulsa Police, especially officer Tim O'Keefe.
"I've been working down here since 1982 and this alley has just been a thorn in our side the entire time," Tim O'Keefe, Tulsa Police, said.
Over the last three years, Tulsa's overall crime rate has dropped to 33 percent. But O'Keefe says the alley remains a potholed paradise for lawlessness.
"We have a lot of robberies that happen in this alley, a lot of drug deals, a lot of prostitutes," Officer O'Keefe said. "There's no reason to have them out here and if we can get rid of this alley, it's helping out the neighborhood."
The city plans to shut the alley of with a six foot fence. Then they'll remove the asphalt, split the alley in half and properties on each side will be extended to the halfway point.
Sepahvand knows the closure won't cut off crime completely, but believes it's a good first step.
"I'm glad to hear that they closed it. I really do," Sepahvand said.
The mayor still has to sign off on the deal and the city has to figure out the cost. The city expects to start the project in a few weeks if everything goes as planned.