The center of Athens is facing an unprecedented crisis and many believe that it is teetering on the brink of collapse. On the one hand, spiraling crime is posing a major obstacle to traders and businesses located in the heart of the Greek capital. Meanwhile, on the other, gangs of hooded youths and other advocates of violence attempt to make whatever point they are trying to make by destroying private and public property at will and going unpunished. To make matters worse, downtown Athens even looks a complete shambles, with garbage littering the streets and graffiti marring the facades of hundreds of buildings. Such an Athens is repelling to the tourists on whom the city depends and also to consumers, people who may wish to go downtown to do their shopping. If effective measures are not taken immediately to save the historical center from this rapid decline, the city will wither and die, and the cost of this will be very grave indeed, for everyone involved.