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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Pine Tree Apartment Complex off South Boulevard is located next to a strip mall, and most residents take a cut-through in the back to do their shopping.

It's a big headache. In the summer you have a lot of people going under the trees, they drink, they party, said Abby Duarte, who works in a chiropractor s office facing the shortcut.

Officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department s Westover Division say the problems are much more serious than loitering.

Captain Estella Patterson says several people have been robbed.

While people were legitimately doing it to go to the strip mall, we had our suspects waiting for victims to come through, said Capt. Patterson.

She says that over the past couple of weeks officers have talked with the apartment management, getting their cooperation to remove brush and improve lighting.

Duarte says that s welcome news.

That would be great. I feel very safe. I would feel better here at work, Duarte.

Despite the improvements, police advise residents to take the long way.

While we re happy that we are getting cooperation, by the same token with the weather warming up that's not an area anybody loitering or hanging around in because there is that potential for a robbery or assault to occur, said Captain Patterson.

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