CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — One Champaign food truck owner said he lost business after someone slashed his tires right before U of I graduation weekend in May. He said it cost him thousands of dollars.
“Dave” owns Dave’s Dogs in the Champaign-Urbana area. He said he enjoys the independence of a food truck, but it can come with challenges, especially when he is working on his own.
He’s owned the business for seven years and sold all over the community, but is now closing his doors to late-night customers at Fifth and Green across the street from popular Campustown bar Joe’s. Instead, he wants to focus his time on lunchtime on Wright Street, Grange Grove on game days and other events.
He said the violence on campus is concerning, and he’s not the only food truck owner who feels this way. Jessica Smith and her husband own Smith Burger Co. She said packing up can take 30-60 minutes to ensure everything is put away safely.
Dave said this year has been different than before. “I noticed recently just this fall there are a few more rough characters in the neighborhood. You can tell they’re not students,” he said.
On Friday, Smith said they moved their setup for their own safety. On the first Friday of the month, they normally sell burgers at car meets in Champaign.
“My husband got a phone call from the owner of It’s a Wrap. He had received, from some credible sources, information regarding a possible shooting at the car meet,” Smith said.
WCIA reached out to Champaign Police for more information regarding the threat and are waiting for a response.
So, Smith and her husband pivoted to Campustown for the first time because they already bought fresh food to cook. They set up at First and Green until 9pm.
Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman couldn’t speak directly to Champaign Police or UIPD’s patrolling but says there are “hot spots” across cities and the U of I campus.
“If you see something that is suspicious make sure you report it to law enforcement and we will make sure to do our due diligence in addressing that,” he said.
Heuerman said when they see consistencies in violent crime, they work to take steps to address it.
He said he wants people to be safe and make smart decisions for their businesses if owners find themselves in a threatening situation. And, he wants to assure the community that police agencies are collaborating to make areas safer.
“We still have violent crime, but we’re working toward getting a solution, we’re not just letting it happen, and I think that’s very important for people to realize,” Heuerman said.
Both Dave and Smith said they are not going to let violence stop them from having a successful business. Smith said it’s important to be proactive and have a backup plan.