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To save on operating expenses, small cities and towns have begun replacing asphalt roads with gravel, laying off police officers and turning off streetlights. What is a citizen to do?

Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On

It was when the street lights went out, Diane Cunningham said, that the trouble started.

Her tires were slashed, she said. Her car was broken into. Strange men showed up on her porch. Her neighborhood had grown deserted at night, ever since four streetlights in a row were put out on Airport Road, the street outside her mobile home park.

That is why Ms. Cunningham, 41, and her son Jonathan, 22, were carrying a flat-screen television out of their mobile home on a recent afternoon. “I’m going to pawn this,” Ms. Cunningham said, “to get a shotgun.”

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