Hillsborough neighbors fighting for street lights to help deter crime, accidents

8 On Your Side

Traffic study under way, says county

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – 8 On Your Side is investigating after neighbors say they feel any walk after dark could be their last.  

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking just to walk to the store,” said Michael Ash, Jr. “Am I going to get hit by a car?”

The 63-year-old contacted 8 On Your Side after unsuccessfully trying to get street lights for months.

Currently, there’s no street lights on Puritan Road from 56th Street to Pine Hill Drive. The dark stretch is in unincorporated Hillsborough County. It’s not uncommon for unincorporated areas to have no street lights, according to the county.

Ash and other neighbors say they’re concerned about accidents and crime.

“I get in a state of mind like, who knows what’ll happen?” said Ash.

Pam Garrett has lived in the neighborhood for more than thirty years. She doesn’t feel safe going out at night.

“It’s creepy,” said Garrett, “I’ve had stuff stolen from my porch.”

“There’s just a lot of crime,” she added.

After 8 On Your Side Investigates got involved, the county began a traffic study on the corridor to look at the issue more closely. The study will examine pedestrian and car traffic as well as safety. The study has not been completed yet.

In the meantime, 8 On Your Side learned there’s other ways to light up your neighborhood.

A community’s other option is Hillsborough County’s Residential Street Lighting Program

More than half of property owners must sign a petition and agree to pay for the street lights. The costs would likely be added to the homeowner’s property tax bill.

If residents try and fail to start a streetlight district, their next option is to get the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to declare the crime to be bad enough that more lighting is likely to help. In that case, the resident can apply for a new grant through the county.

The “High Crime Area” Residential Street Lighting Mini-Grant Program has been in effect since May 15, 2019.

If residents are successful, they can obtain street lights for at least two years.  

8 On Your Side Investigates looked up the crime statistics for the three-block stretch of Puritan Road on the HCSO website. By our count, there’s been 10 thefts, seven batteries, three burglaries and two robberies on this stretch in the past five years.

The HCSO designates a high crime area based on statistics and location. It’s done on a case-by-case basis.

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