N. Siders target upturn in crime

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Chief Jimmy Hughes.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

Home break-ins and problems at an area pool were the main points of discussion.

YOUNGSTOWN — Break-ins, theft, vandalism and general mayhem prompted dozens of North Side residents to meet with community leaders in search of solutions to crime.

Residents packed a meeting facility Thursday at the Park Vista retirement community on Wick Avenue to speak with Councilman Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd, Police Chief Jimmy Hughes and city Prosecutor Jay Macejko.

One of the top issues concerning those in attendance was the series of home break-ins on the North Side in recent months. Many hands went up when one member of the audience asked how many in attendance experienced some type of theft. More hands were raised when those who had yet to report a theft or break-in were asked to raise their hands.

A Madera Avenue woman, who did not give her name out of fear of retaliation, said she is a prime example of why so many people in the community are afraid and want something done about crime.

The woman said she was home sleeping just after midnight one recent Sunday when someone threw an axe through her living room window then pulled her flat-screen television through the window. She advised those in attendance not to leave valuables near windows and put lights outside their homes.

Hughes assured those in attendance that the department is doing what it can to catch those responsible for the wave of break-ins in the area. He said there are suspects in the crimes and police are investigating.

“We have suspects we are following and trying to set them up so to speak. I was hoping to tell you by this date that we had made an arrest, but we will, I assure you we will,” Hughes said.

Detective Sgt. Kevin Mercer said officers have compiled a profile of the 17 burglaries in the immediate area along with about eight burglaries in close proximity it. He said there appears to be two different factions at work, and police are conducting surveillance and undercover work to catch those responsible.

Macejko reminded the residents that burglars always leave something like fingerprints or DNA that can be preserved and used for prosecution. He also said it is a good idea to label valuable items and record serial numbers on valuables so those items can be found if stolen.

One woman asked if the city could set higher bond amounts on those arrested to keep repeat offenders off the streets.

Macejko said higher bond amounts may not matter if the offender is a nonviolent felon. He said the Mahoning County Jail is under orders to control overcrowding and will therefore release nonviolent felons in order to keep violent offenders incarcerated.

Another issue raised concerned North Side Pool. Residents said the pool is overcrowded and issues such as fighting and large groups of kids causing problems are on the rise.

Brown said the city has only one pool, and people from across the city come to the North Side Pool to swim, but the city will have to enforce the occupancy rules for the pool and look into a greater police presence in the area.

Hughes said the police department will be taking enforcement action against those acting unruly outside the pool or walking in the street through neighborhoods being destructive.

Brown called for members of the North Side to continue coming together with the formation of block watches and helping police with valuable information.

Angela Harris, a Parmelee Avenue resident, said she has experienced vandalism to her home, but strongly believes a coming together of the community is the only thing that will bring an end to the crime.

“I believe this is a good forum, and I wish more people would participate. Many people are angry and become pessimistic. They need to understand that it takes the community to make these things change,” she said.