New Yakima street lights haven't reduced crime

New Yakima street lights haven't reduced crime »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- We've covered this issue for years: plans to improve Yakima's most dangerous streets.

Grant money would replace streetlights to light up the darkness. After more than a year of setbacks, dozens of new streetlights were added in North Yakima. But have they payed off?

But, sitting on the 700 block of North 5th Avenue, cashier Tina Karel will tell you it's not always family friendly.

"They pulled a gun on someone out there," said Tina.

It's no secret the neighborhood is a playground for criminals, but Tina is looking on the bright side.

"I think with the lights, more lighted streets, there's going to be less crime," said Tina.

Yakima installed two street lights here about a year ago. They make Tina feel safer.

"Just a bad neighborhood," said one neighbor who lives near a new light.

She says the lights are pointless. She and some of her neighbors have been victims of car prowls while the lights shined overhead.

We checked three areas where lights were installed and compared violent crime rates before and after. All three spots had either identical or more police calls in 2012 than in 2011.

"(the lights) don't make any difference. When everyone's gone to sleep, they come out," said the neighbor.

A dim reality for those hoping the lights would help 2013 shine a little brighter.

Yakima has no plans to install more lights in the area. Despite the statistics, police still say the added lighting is an improvement.