TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Officials released shocking video Thursday of a car crashing into an Ybor City bar. Police are hoping someone will recognize the driver of the Nissan, who ran away after crashing it into the Bad Monkey located at 1717 E. 7th Ave.
Despite this crime, Tampa Police Department spokesman Steve Hegarty said Ybor City is safe.
“Crime is down significantly in Ybor City,” he said. Hegarty explains crimes including violent crimes such as robbery, forcible sex, aggravated assault, as well as property crimes such burglary, shoplifting, vehicle theft and larceny is down 37.9 percent compared to last year.
“Although the video we released is dramatic and of high quality, it is not evidence of a trend,” Hegarty said.
Hegarty said crime is down in part because of teamwork between police and Ybor bars and businesses. “It takes both to make an impact like that,” he said.
Tom Mueller is with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, which launched an anti-violence program in Ybor Thursday. “I think people need to give the area a chance,” Mueller said.
He said many people don’t have the facts straight. “Not enough people are aware of the crime statistics and how far down they are and how minor most of the crimes are,” Mueller told News Channel 8.
The reaction from the crowd on 7th Avenue Thursday night was mixed. Bianca Torres, of Tampa, said Ybor can be safe, “Depending upon the night you come here.”
“I’d say Ybor’s probably got a bit of a rap for crime,” Chloe Neal, of Tampa, said.
When it comes to a bad rap, just ask the owner of the Bad Monkey.
“You have rowdies that come out and look for a fight and we hate that,” Dave Scott said. Scott told News Channel 8 that since the incident, people have been giving his place bad online reviews and saying Ybor is a dangerous place.
Scott said nothing could be further from the truth.
“You can live, work and play here in this area, as well, as you can anywhere else,” he added.