NEW ORLEANS - As neighbors in the Freret neighborhood walked with police to take a stand against crime Wednesday night, they said a lot has changed in recent years.
"In the very beginning I had some customers that were nervous about coming in and bringing their pets into the store, and now it's like, 'Wow, Freret has really changed in the last year,'" said Michelle Ingram, owner of Zeus' Place, an animal boarding and grooming business on Freret Street.
"The police department has done a very good job in recent years with keeping the crime problem down in this area," said Andrew Amacker, president of Neighbors United. "We have had historic bad spots, and while there have been some issues, crime has been very much alleviated from where it was pre-storm."
Police agree that crime has dropped significantly since new businesses began popping up on Freret.
"We don't have any problems in this area right now, because of the high level of pedestrian and vehicle traffic in this area. This is one of the areas we patrol a lot," said 2nd District Commander Paul Noel.
It's an example, neighbors said, of what a community can do when it teams up with law enforcement to take back a neighborhood.
But neighbors said blight on the edge of Freret's resurgence continues to fuel crime.
"Blight does spawn crime and its own problems, and we as a neighborhood are working very hard to address those issues," said Amacker.
"We still have a lot of crime happening in the blighted areas on the other side of Cadiz [Street] from my business," said Ingram. "Just derelict land owners not securing their property."
Ingram is referring to vacant property owned by the Barreca brothers near Freret and Cadiz. Eyewitness News has done a series of reports on the properties over the years.
"We have drug deals going on in there and that's my one major concern going on next to my business," said Ingram.
While the property is covered with for-sale signs, they have not been sold yet. Meanwhile, police said they'll continue to patrol.
And neighbors said participating in the anti-crime walk is just a small step in their efforts to work with authorities and bring back the neighborhood.
In the last month, there have been two residence burglaries, a car break in, and an assault near the vacant building neighbors referenced on Freret Street.
Police say no major violent crimes have happened on Freret between Jefferson and Napoleon for quite some time.