By Bobeth Yates

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After CBS4 reporter Bobeth Yates and photojournalist Ebenezer Mends were attacked on South Beach while covering a news story, concern about the safety and security in the South Beach entertainment district continues to increase.

In the past several months this is just one of several crimes that have occurred on the beach.

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During Spring Break, thousands flocked to the area and chaos erupted. More than a thousand people were arrested, about the same number of guns were confiscated, and a much larger number of traffic citations were issued.

Much of the increase in crime is being blamed on the pandemic and people finally being able to get out.

“Here’s what happened during COVID lockdowns, you’re putting alcohol, putting stress, you’re putting anxiety, you’re putting shut down, locked down, staying at home, and all that is being put in a microwave and you’re cooking it on high and it’s gonna explode,” said Alex Piquero, a criminology professor at the University of Miami. “That’s why we’re seeing this interpersonal violence, more aggressive things going on.”

Piquero said the increase in crime is being seen all over the country and with Florida wide open, more and more of those people are flocking to the beach for a release.

WATCH: Bobeth Yates report on the attack

 

Miami Beach commissioners are hoping to solve the problem by moving up the last call for alcohol from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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“What the research does show pretty convincingly is that later opening hours, in terms of serving alcohol, tend to have more problems. When you roll those hours back, whether it’s one hour, two hours, or three hours of stopping alcohol sales, we see crime actually go down. That finding has been replicated in several studies around the world,” said Piquero.

But Wednesday’s night attack occurred around 9 p.m. and the attackers were not leaving a bar or a club. Instead, they had been drinking liquor from their own containers while walking up and down the beach.

Thursday night other news crews felt it necessary to have armed security, just in case a problem arose.

Piquero said there is just a small group of people causing the issues and that group comes to the area because of the party-like atmosphere.

“This place attracts that. When you can walk around with drinks, where you can take the party to a bigger party, you’re going to have these events. Sometimes it’s going to be 8 o’clock or it’s going to be 2 o’clock, but if we give people another three hours, and I think that is the idea behind the ordinance, you’re adding more time for things to occur,” said Piquero.

Some business owners don’t agree with the effort and say they are being penalized for a problem they didn’t create.

“There was at 12 o’clock curfew, there was a 10 o’clock curfew, there was an 8 o’clock curfew and still crime soared in the streets. So there’s a real disconnect between the truth and crime,” David Wallack the owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe.

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The new 2 a.m. last call time will go into effect on May 22nd and run through December 8th.