WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - You may drive down Market Street in Wilmington on a regular basis and have no idea that this street is a hotbed of criminal activity.
Business owners say they are fed up with seeing prostitution and drug deals along Market Street.
Drew Keller, who owns Ivy Cottage, located at the corner of Market and Mercer Street, said some of the motels are to blame for the crime in the area. He's concerned because some of the crimes - including drug use - are spilling onto his property.
"We find needles just thrown in the gravel over here," he said, pointing to a gravel pile behind the business. "We just pick them up with a trash picker and throw them in the trash."
Keller said before customers arrive, he and his workers find and remove heroin needles from the property. He said users seem to shoot up in the parking lot at night. He's seen drug deals take place behind the store.
Keller tells us shots were even fired on nearby Mercer Street recently, which he says they could hear inside the store. Keller said it's time for action and something needs to be done to clean up Market Street.
"The drug and violence is after hours when we're closed but the prostitution is when we're open," he said. "It's very frustrating because you don't want to have that portrayal of being in the bad area of town. It's not a bad place it just has its quirks."
Police have stepped up patrols in the area and the DA is even cracking down on some of the motels along Market Street.
Coming up tonight on WECT News at 11, we are taking a closer look at crime along the Market Street corridor in our special report: Motel Mayhem.