Tampa business owner finds his Arch Street property vandalized

He suspects retaliation from drivers

TAMPA, Fla. - Tampa business owner Bill Gillespie was looking forward to Friday and the end of the work week.  Now, he is looking at his vandalized property and a lot of unnecessary cleanup all because he tried protecting his property from drivers making U-turns.

"It's upsetting," said Gillespie. "It looks like it was done in retaliation."

Tampa police agree.

Gillespie's business is located on West Arch Street just east of North Himes Avenue. 

Police confirm the area has recently become a trouble spot. Two months ago, drivers heading south on North Himes Avenue were stopped from making left-hand turns onto Interstate 275 as construction to widen the interstate and change on and off ramps continues.

Multiple detours to gain access to the interstate were set up. Signs were also put up warning drivers not to make U-turns as well as orange barrels.

Still, drivers did not heed the warnings forcing patrol officers to issue several hundred tickets, according to TPD.

Gillespie and his neighbors immediately became collateral damage due to road construction. Drivers not wanting to be ticketed are now making left-hand turns onto West Arch Street and using private driveways to make U-turns.

"More than a 100 people a day we see," Gillespie said.

Witnessing a fender bender and having a driver slam into his mailbox, Gillespie decided to put up plywood signs with "No U-Turn" spray painted in bright red at the entrances to his business.  He even keeps his barbed wire gates closed throughout the day.

"We've been fighting this for two months. I have been ping-ponged to all the different agencies trying to get a resolution to this," he said.

ABC Action News first learned of the troubles residents were experiencing in the area on Wednesday .

"I've almost been hit probably 10 times, I mean T-boned," Melissa Shering, a homeowner told us at the time.

Gillespie's employees also spoke out about the terrible and dangerous traffic conditions.

"We are afraid to pull out of our own driveway because we are afraid we are going to get hit because people are pulling into it as we are trying to pull out," Rob Barcus told us.

After our story aired, Gillespie said he noticed more TPD officers ticketing.

"You know with the sign they probably back into this, did property damage to their own vehicle and then decided to take it out on us," said Gillespie, while picking up the heavy plywood sign that was thrown onto his property.

Police told ABC Action News they are stepping up patrols in the area and were setting up a sting while we were rolling to nab law breaking drivers. In addition, they plan to have officers on different shifts watch properties in the area.

"We haven't had any kind of help until now," Gillespie said.

Construction in the area is slated to wrap up next month.

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