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On weekends, flower vendors line the side of this road, on the main route from the Capodichino main gate to the support site housing area in Naples, Italy. It was along this road late last year that men attempted to enter Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Brown’s car. As he sped away, Brown saw a man lying on the side of the road covered in blood. A survey of Neapolites shows residents believe crime is the city’s biggest problem.
On weekends, flower vendors line the side of this road, on the main route from the Capodichino main gate to the support site housing area in Naples, Italy. It was along this road late last year that men attempted to enter Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Brown’s car. As he sped away, Brown saw a man lying on the side of the road covered in blood. A survey of Neapolites shows residents believe crime is the city’s biggest problem. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy – How safe is Naples?

According to Neapolitans, not very safe.

Euripses, an Italian nonprofit institute of social studies, recently surveyed 2,000 Naples-area residents and found that more than 70 percent of them feel unsafe going out alone in the evening and about 27 percent feel unsafe going out alone during the day.

Euripses carries out studies and research for national and international companies and public and private organizations.

The report, titled “Crime, safety, and juvenile delinquency in Naples: analysis of a complex city,” finds that crime is considered the city’s biggest problem, topping the list by 47.4 percent of all Neapolitans surveyed. More than nine of every 10 participants also feel that juvenile delinquency adds to the city’s lack of safety.

“I think during the day it’s safe,” said Claudia Libretti, an Italian who works on Naval Support Activity Naples and lives in nearby Baia Verde. “Usually I don’t think it’s good to go out at night that often. [I’ll go out] usually with friends.”

Crime, she said, isn’t on the decrease. Other Italians and Americans in the base coffee bar agreed.

“Right now, the situation is getting worse compared to the past few years,” Libretti said. “We hope it will go down, but right now it’s going up, unfortunately.”

Even around Naples Capodichino airport, which shares a runway with the base and where many visitors receive their first impression of the city, crime is pervasive.

Most of the area’s crime involves property, such as car and house break-ins or robberies, but there is violent crime, too.

Less than a mile from the base’s main gate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Brown witnessed a bloody event on a Sunday afternoon last fall near the rows of flower vendors that serve a nearby cemetery.

“I drove off base, around the loop — this is the way everybody goes, every time, to get to the support site [housing area],” Brown said. “I noticed these Italian guys running down the street toward our cars.

“They tried to get into the one in front of me by opening the door,” he continued. It sped off and the men came toward Brown’s car.

“… One of the guys tried to get into my car. He had a very panicked look on his face and blood on his shirt,” Brown said, adding that he, too, sped off.

“About 10 or 15 yards later I saw a man laying in the street, bleeding profusely. It looked like either he had a gunshot wound or knife wound.”

Brown never found out anything about the incident.

“I told some people … most of them were not surprised,” he said.

Within a few months, Brown’s car was broken into at the Iperfamila grocery store near the support site.

Brown said he’s surprised that 70 percent of Neapolitans don’t feel safe going out alone at night.

“I’m surprised it’s that low,” he said. “I’m surprised it’s not 100 percent.”

Everyone he knows in Naples, Brown said, has either been a victim of some sort of crime, from petty theft to carjackings, or knows someone who has.

The Agenzia Giornalistica Italia news agency quoted Euripses president Gian Maria Fara as saying that crime, caused by the “pervasive” presence of the Neapolitan Mafia, or Camorra, is the underlying factor for the lack of safety.

The Camorra’s presence has also recently come to the forefront of local news after a 14-year-old girl, Annalisa Durante, was killed during an assassination attempt on a Camorra member in a central Naples neighborhood March 27.

The target, 20-year-old Salvatore Giuliano, then accidentally shot his “human shield” in the back of the head. He was arrested two days later.

Durante’s funeral drew thousands calling for an end to the Camorra’s hold on the city.

But, Libretti said, that call may fall by the wayside, as it’s too deeply entrenched in Naples society.

“The mafia has always been here,” she said.

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