by Brittany Raymer
Former Digital Writer & Editor
Break-ins are up 200% in Asheville so far this year. This has left business owners frustrated to the point that many are not even reporting the crimes, as a lack of police presence and failing Democrat policies have turned the tourist destination into a crime magnet.
Asheville is one of North Carolina’s highest-ranked tourist destinations and attracts people from all over the country. Not only is the city set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, but it’s home to the largest mansion in the United States, the turn of the century Biltmore House and Estate.
But the Land of the Sky has started developing a troubling reputation as a city in the midst of a crime wave.
Just a little over a month into the new year, Asheville Police have already responded to a reported 11 break-ins. That number might seem low, but when compared to the 44 for the entirety of 2022, that’s an increase of 200%.
Businesses are bearing the brunt of the crime wave, with The Times Bar targeted by a man twice for booze and cash within a few days.
“The first time, [he stole] about $700 or $800 in cash and about 10 or so bottles of whisky, or alcohol. The second time, there was no cash, but another 10, 12 bottles,” Owner Chris Faber told ABC 13. “He took our dirty rag hamper and dumped all the rags on the ground, and then used that to load up the booze.”
The loss, to a certain extent, is minimal, but the challenge is that there’s seemingly little that Faber or other business owners can do to alleviate the problem.
“It’s wildly frustrating, and mostly for me it’s frustrating because I’m not comfortable leaving my bar by itself when it happens that frequently,” he said. “We just don’t know what to do as a preventative measure, other than what we’re already doing.”
The problem has become so bad that it’s likely that some aren’t even reporting the break-ins anymore, and instead just submitting the claims to insurance.
“They’ve become so frustrated with the situation,” Asheville Police Department senior officer Robert Crume said.
This situation is on trend from a report last year, which showed a 31% surge in violent crime. Unfortunately, it looks like this year will follow a similar trajectory.
Those within the community seemingly cite the loss of police officers and a left-leaning, soft on crime District Attorney and City Council for Asheville’s downward spiral.
“I think what you’re seeing in Asheville right now is a culmination of the last several years of pulling police back and not letting them do their jobs like they’re able to do,” former Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said in September 2022.
These reports of violence and crime is extremely detrimental to the Asheville community, which thrives on the tourism dollars driven in part by the Biltmore Estate.
Personally, going to the Biltmore is one of my favorite activities in North Carolina. As a historian with a love of old historic homes and buildings, the Biltmore House is a relic of the Gilded Age and echo of some of the magnificence you can usually only get in Europe. But given all of the crime reports, there’s an extra sense of worry when visiting.
From signs posted all over our preferred hotel parking lot about the risk of break-ins to the random group of people who were trying to drunkenly climb a forested hill outside the hotel at 11:00pm, the sense of safety has noticeably declined in recent years.
Though the Biltmore will continue to attract visitors, the high risk of crime may make some think twice in the future.
To address this crime wave, the John Locke Foundation has put together a research brief called: “Keeping the Peace: How intensive community policing can save black lives and help break the cycle of poverty.” For more, click here.