Crime Concerns Sweep East Side, Over 150 Breaking and Enterings Since January

Friday, July 24, 2015


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A recent spate in breaking and enterings on the East Side of Providence, including 38 over the past month, has prompted a call to action to address safety concerns in the community. 

According to a daily crime report sent by East Side resident Cheryl Simmons, concerned residents are calling for a "specific response."

"If there is any interest in lobbying the police and mayor for an organized response to the rash of B&E activity please contact the Blackstone Boulevard Neighborhood seems that our lack of patrols is being exploited, perhaps by out of state "professionals," and it warrants a specific response," wrote one commenter.

Since January, over 145 B&Es on the East Side have been reported, ranging from 6 in January, to nearly 40 in the past thirty days, according to

SLIDES: See Month-by-Month Breakdown of East Side B&Es BELOW

"We're definitely concerned," said East Side resident Beth Donabedien, who said she's lived at her current house since 2012.  "We always had an alarm system, but we've beefed it up with all the windows including upstairs since we heard about the breaking and entering -- stuff we wouldn't have thought we'd ever have to do."

"I've never experienced the home break-in situation like this -- a few with the autos break-ins, but nothing like this," said Donabedien.  

Police Address Situation

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A map of a month of B&Es on the East Side

Simmons, who reports the crime updates to a listserve, including comments from members, spoke to the recent increase in anxiety in the community.  

"There is definitely heightened concern about the recent spate of B&E's. People want to know if they occur when people are home or away," said Simmons on Thursday. "My understanding is that it is a mix, but that a big target now are homes with "for sale" signs and homes undergoing construction.  The latter would certainly indicate that the thieves are banking on no one being home."

Notes is a recent Simmons' email from a Fox Point Neighborhood Association meeting earlier this month -- and comments from the police -- acknowledged the recent trend. 

"While overall crime on the East Side is not trending upwards, there has been a strong, noticeable spike in B&Es over the last few weeks, Lt. Joe Donnelly of the Brook Street Substation said Monday, July 13 at FPNA's July Board meeting. 

“What’s different about these break-ins is the burglars’ use of ladders to access houses,” Donnelly said. That fact could indicate that residents and contractors are leaving unsecured ladders on the premises, or “that we have a repeat offender.” He urged residents to be sure to secure ladders, in either case. 

Another element of the trend is that alarm systems are inadequate because they lack window contact points or motion detectors in upper floors of houses, he pointed out. These additions, along with installation of some cameras at the front doors and other entries are fairly cheap way to improve the security systems, Donnelly explained.  

If your house is burglarized, Donnelly urged residents to not touch the points of entry until they have been fingerprinted by police. “The other thing you can do is look out for your neighbors and call police.

Councilman Sam Zurier spoke to overall property crime levels as being mixed, but also recognized that the break-ins as of late have been an issue.

"The statistics for Districts 8 and 9 (which include the East Side down to North Main Street) show a 7% increase in property crime this year in District 8 and a 9% decrease in District 9," said Zurier. "As the Police have pointed out, many of the property crimes that do occur are instances where the property owner did not take proper precautions.  In the short term, sometimes there is a crime spike until a particular perpetrator or group of perpetrators is apprehended, which is why statistics over a period of time are more useful."

"In the past week or two, the police have reported an increased number of second-floor break-ins, and they are advising residents to secure any ladders they are keeping in their back yards," continued Zurier. "It is possible that the second-floor burglaries are being committed by the same person or group of people, so if the police get enough information, they will apprehend the individuals in question which could bring the current string of burglaries to an end.  More generally, residents should review their home exteriors and cars to take away easy crimes from the burglars."

Safety Concerns

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Sam Zurier

Zurier said he felt that while he believed most of his constituents feel safe, that current circumstances are leading to apprehensions. 

"I believe most residents in the neighborhoods I represent feel “safe” in the sense that violent crime is rare, and has been for many years," said Zurier. "On the other hand, residents are concerned about property crime.  This is a complex picture."

On Simmons'  listserve, a number of residents have over the past months weighed in about their support for the police response. 

"[Residents] think the PPD have been very responsive. They have increased patrols in the area, and are repeatedly urging anyone seeing anything suspicious to call them ASAP," said Simmons. "More patrols would help.  Alarming second and third floor windows would also help, as many of this summer's B&E's have been through the second floor."

An East Side resident expressed her recent experience, however.

"On one occasion when I had an attempted break in at midnight while myself and three small children were asleep, it took the officers 45 mins to respond (someone had tried to open my front door and set off alarm) when the officer showed up he said he thought it was Alton St instead of [my street] and was at the wrong address," said East Side resident Susan Teeden-Cielo. "I stayed on the phone with the dispatcher for at least 20 minutes, spelling the name of my street multiple times. It would be helpful if the officers and dispatchers were familiar with our city's streets!!"

"The mayor needs to step up and publicly address this crime issue in a community meeting of some sort. Where has our mayor been since he was elected?? What is he doing to decrease the crime? We need to band together as a community and get to know our neighbors, have adequate street lighting from the city and make sure we have adequate lighting around our own property," said Cielo.

Elorza said that the police have increased their presence in the area - with results. 

"The Police Department has received reports from that area and increased its presence in the neighborhood, resulting in at least one recent arrest," said Elorza spokesperson Evan England.


Related Slideshow: East Side B&Es - Jan. 2015 through July 2015

Below is the data provided by the Providence Police Department to for breaking and enterings on the East Side of Providence for the last six months, from January 23, 2015 through July 22, 2015.

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January 23, 2015 to February 22, 2015

Number of East Side B&Es: 6

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February 23, 2015 through March 22, 2015

Number of East Side B&Es: 17

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March 23, 2015 through April 22, 2015

Number of East Side B&Es: 26

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April 23, 2015 through May 22, 2015

Number of East Side B&Es: 30

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May 23, 2015 through June 22, 2015

Number of East Side B&Es: 28 

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June 23, 2015 through July 22, 2015

Number of East Side B&Es: 38


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