East Side Realtors Sound Alarm on Spike in Crime

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


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Recent concerns over breaking and enterings on the East Side of Providence have prompted some residents to look into private security -- and Providence real estate professionals are sounding the alarm on the growing crime concerns in the community. 

"At our meeting [Monday morning] we talked about how when you put a 'for sale' sign on the house, that's practically advertising for crime right now, especially if the seller have moved out," said Nelson Taylor, an East Side real estate veteran with William Raveis who now runs Taylor and Company.  "We're now requiring that all of our listings to have alarms systems --it's a new mandate for our team."

"Anything like this affects peoples' concerns about a neighborhood, and it affects real estate," continued Taylor.   "We've got no jobs, bad schools, high taxes, and you throw crime into it - it will be hard for me to attract people and it's going to affect prices in the long run."

Contracting Private Security

The firm SecurityRI was recently contracted for a trial period by residents on the East Side who had wanted additional security, after 150 reported break-ins occurred in the first six months of the year.  

"We were contacted by someone on the East Side who said they were concerned and afraid for their safety," said Dave Pacia, managing partner with Security RI, of the temporary engagement. "We have special units called safety units, and what we do is a grid that we then patrol. [Our safety unit guards] are not armed, they're just a deterrent - we don't apprehend, We're very high tech, we all have software backgrounds."

Cheryl Simmons, who manages the email listserve that relays crime reports and related issues to residents' attention, spoke about the desire for increased security -- but not out of pocket costs.  

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"One would hope that our tax dollars would provide enough funding to the PPD to keep us safe.  However, this is not the case, and residents are becoming increasingly angry about the situation.  They rightfully resent the thought of paying for private security in addition to their already high property taxes," said Simmons.  "I think the police are doing an excellent job with the resources they have, but there are far too few of them to effectively handle the issues of the East Side let alone the whole city."

The city recently saw a new class of police officers join the force in October 2014, but the head of the Providence police union said he has been advocating for a new class since Mayor Jorge Elorza took office. 

"We're down to 425 [officers] right now -- we were down to 390 before the latest class," said Taft Manzotti. "I tried to convince Elorza we needed one right away.  They're saying September for a news class, but they're still taking applications.  I don't know we can start realistically next month."

Issues of Crime, Community

While the number of breaking and enterings rose from 49 between January 23 and March 23 of 2015 to 96 over the next three months, Councilman Sam Zurier noted that the response from the Providence police in recent weeks has seen an abatement in burglaries.  

"The police stated at the meeting that they have “opened the checkbook” to increase patrols, and recent data indicate that burglaries are in fact down on the East Side – over the past four weeks, the weekly total number of burglaries in District 8 declined from 6 to 5 to 3 to 1, while in District 9 the decline was from 9 to 5 to 4 to 2," reported Zurier. 

Although that number has gone down, Sally Lapides, who owns Residential Properties, said that crime on the East Side currently presents a major issue for realtors.  

"As both an East Side resident and the owner of Residential Properties Ltd., Rhode Island's largest independent real estate brokerage firm, I am very concerned with the rise in crime in Providence," said Lapides. "I do not have the current crime statistics for the year for the Capital City except to note that over 150 reported breaking and entering cases occurred in the first six months of 2015 on the East Side.  Whether this figure is dramatically higher than the first six months of 2014 or the perception of more crime has become a reality because of the daily reporting by Cheryl Simmons or the new Facebook page by the Blackstone-Elmgrove-College Hill Group, residents are much more fearful of security and safety now than ever before."

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"I was never fearful to walk at night on the East Side but now have stopped doing it," said Sally Lapides.

"As a real estate professional for almost 40 years, I know that the driving force to keep demand for and property values high is being able to say that a neighborhood has great city services, safe streets and wonderful schools.  When one or two are at risk, clients often ask to see other cities and towns as an alternative.  Ultimately, property taxes can go down because property values reflect the lack of demand and less revenue comes into the City when assessments go down," continued Lapides. "At this point, demand is still high for the East Side and property values are strong.  But no one wants to take the risk of seeing crime rise over a period of time and watch their property values depreciate. We need a strategic plan now from both the Mayor, who understands the importance of the issue and the Police department."

Aaron Renn, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a Contributing Editor at its quarterly magazine City Journal, spoke to the issue of crime -- and advent of residents seeking out private security options.

"In terms of cities, at the end of the day -- crime is the thing that the most important to control," said Renn.  "Schools are important; some people don't have kids, some send their kids elsewhere -there's a way to work around bad schools.  But there's no escape from crime."

"That's a testament to the financial condition of Providence. This is what happens when you go broke -- I think that people don't get the ramifications of the pension issues," said Renn. "It's not just Rhode Island, it's eventually catching up everywhere."


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

Below is the data provided by the Providence Police Department to CrimeReports.com 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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