RAINELLE, W.Va (WOAY) – Rainelle Town Councilman John Wyatt began noticing an increase in the town’s crime specifically after the 2016 floods. When he noticed the torn screen on a window at one of his ministry buildings and noticed he was missing instruments inside, he realized he had become a victim.
“I don’t want to give a negative view of Rainelle at all because I think we live in a – Rainelle’s one of the greatest places in West Virginia to live, maybe in America, but we have a problem,” he said.
Wyatt says it’s the drug problem. After the 2016 floods, Rainelle’s abandoned building total rose to about 100 and according to Wyatt, some of these buildings are being occupied by squatters. Wyatt and others believe many of them are involved in drug trafficking which has lead to the increase in crime in the area.
“I have seen in this neighborhood over the years especially these last two years, people out here on the sidewalk really late at night,” one resident, Joyce Cline said. “You can kind of hear them creeping around. And a lot of the cars have been broken into on this row and just change and cigarettes and other items have been taken from the cars. A few people on this row have had their homes broken into.”
Both Wyatt and Cline want to see increased enforcement of the curfew and increased enforcement of town ordinances requiring working utilities. Wyatt says he believes that if the 10 p.m. curfew was enforced, his building would not have been broken into. They also want to see more of the abandoned buildings getting torn down.
“If we have a reputation of having crime in our community then what sensible person would want to tour the scenic highway through Rainelle? I wouldn’t want to bring my family to do that if it was so. So we need to, like Barney, we need to nip this in the bud,” Wyatt said.
The town is also looking into reinstating a neighborhood watch program.